Published originally in Gun Africa edition 26 (September 2016).
UPDATE: Late renewal situation
We take a look at the latest developments with regard to the late renewal of licences – that is, persons who have submitted their licence renewal application either within 90 days of the expiry of the licence, but more often than not after the actual expiry date, and which licences are in the main for self-defence.
I have had a number of persons and clients tell me they have received a SAPS/CFR SMS advising that their renewal application “has not been issued”. The SMS further informs the person to contact their DFO in this regard. When contacted, the DFOs invariably have not received any documentation, while some DFOs are able to print out the refusal letters.
This refusal letter informs the applicant that their firearm licence renewal has been declined. The wording on the refusal letter reads as follows: “Refusal of Application for a licence to Possess a Firearm: Type of Licence
TRANSITIONAL RENEWAL FOR LICENCE TO POSSESS
Your application to possess a firearm dated 2016-06-22 has been refused by the Registrar of Firearms.
Reason(s) for decision
Comprehensive Reason (1):
LICENCE TERMINATED IN TERMS OF SECTION (28) (1) (A) (SIC) OF THE FIREARMS (SIC) ACT, ACT 60 OF 2000
You are entitled to appeal against the refusal within ninety (90) days from the date of this notice in terms of the stipulation of Section 133 of the Firearms Control Act, 2000 (Act No 60 of 2000) as amended.” Thus the SAPS is relying on Section 28 with respect to the termination of the expired or late renewed licence.
Section 28 (1) (a) of the Firearms Control Act (Act 60 of 2000) (FCA) states:
28. Termination of firearm licence
(1) A licence issued in terms of this Chapter terminates –
(a) Upon the expiry of the relevant period contemplated in Section 27, unless renewed in terms of Section 24.
And Section 24 states:
24. Renewal of firearm licences
(1) The holder of the licence issued in terms of the Chapter who wishes to renew the licence must at least 90 days before the date of the expiry of the licence apply to the Register for its renewal.
Section 27 deals with the validity of licences. A self-defence firearm licence, in terms of Section 13, is valid for five years, while a licence to possess a restricted firearm for self defence, in terms of Section 14, is valid for two years. The validity period in terms of Sections 15, 16, 16(a), 17, 18, 19 and 20 (only for a game lodge and hunting) is ten years. A licence to possess a firearm for business purposes other than for a game lodge or hunting is valid for five years.
However, what does a person do if he or she has received such an SMS and/ or refusal letter? The SAPS/CFR still has to notify you officially in writing that your licence renewal has been declined. You may contact your DFO, whereupon you will receive the refusal letter in due course. Please note the time and date you called or paid a visit to your DFO for record purposes, and for possible use in your appeal.
There is nothing further you can do until you have received the refusal letter from your DFO. At this stage the CFR is effectively giving you an opportunity to appeal in terms of Section 133 of the FCA. The CFR is declining licence renewal applications en masse, without taking into account the merits of the applicants’ personal reasons or circumstances for being late.
Nor do I believe that the CFR is reading applicants’ supporting documentation as to whether or the applicant supplied any reasons whatsoever. There is thus scope for the applicant, prior to appealing, to request further and proper reasons in terms of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA). In terms of PAJA, any decision taken by the CFR must be fair and reasonable, taking into account an applicant’s personal circumstances or reasons for the late application.
If you have received a refusal letter as worded above, my advice is to request the CFR/SAPS to provide more specific reasons for the refusal, especially when the applicant has provided reasons as to why the application was late. The CFR/SAPS then has a legal obligation to furnish full and proper reasons for the refusal, failing which, on appeal, you can refer to such a request being sent to the SAPS, and that full and proper reasons have not being provided. Thereafter ensure that you lodge your appeal within 90 days of receiving the refusal letter, together with the SAPS 530 form, with the Appeal Board.
There is a debate, however, as to whether the Appeal Board has the power and function to deal with such appeals, in light of the fact that we dealing with a legislative problem, as Section 24 does not allow for or cater for a late renewal application, and furthermore that Section 28 does not allow for an appeal specifically. However, the SAPS/CFR have somewhat placed themselves in this position by accepting the application initially, and in some circumstances processing part of the application (the competency lodged at the same time), as well as the fact I that some late renewal applications were indeed being processed.
Finally, the refusal letter itself states that “you are entitled to appeal against the refusal within ninety (90) days from the date of this notice,” thus inviting the person to appeal, and therefore indicating clearly that the CFR/SAPS is of the view that the applicant has the legal right to appeal.
Should you wish to appeal, do not forget to fill out the SAPS 530 form, available from the SAPS website, as well as most DFOs. Your appeal will not be lodged or captured correctly at the Appeal Board without this particular form.
The views and opinions are of the author’s alone and are not those of Gun Africa, its editorial or its clients, customers or suppliers. Any legal opinion or advice given herein are the author’s alone and are as a result of his personal experience and are not to be considered proper legal advice as each particular person’s situation must be taken on its own merits. This article is a guide only, and no reliance should therefore be placed upon this article without seeking proper legal advice.