Gun enthusiasts were up in arms on social media after police posted pictures on Facebook of a bust at a Kraaifontein shooting range.
The post was shared more than 50 times and scores of people commented in anger, with some calling it a “witch hunt”.
According to the Facebook post, the Provincial Flash Squad, conducted a “compliance inspection” at the “firearms dealership in Amadeus Road, Kraaifontein” on Thursday January 19.
“Further investigation revealed a major non-compliance of the Firearms Control Act and the Explosives Act of 1956 and also that the person responsible for the premises had passed away in December 2016.”
The post said police had obtained a search warrant and, on Wednesday January 25, confiscated “169 firearms of various calibres, 1 130 rounds of ammunition, 3 650 primers for reloading, two ammunition reloading machines and 2kg of nitro cellulose propellant”.
The Northern News asked police for more details about the bust. We asked what made it significant? Did the owner’s death void the licensing and, if so, how were the guns a danger?
However, police spokeswoman Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said she would not divulge more information until the investigation had been completed.
The Northern News then contacted the Kraaifontein Sport Shooting Club (KSSC).
Its treasurer, Michael Stow, confirmed that the “dealership” police were referring to was the Kraaifontein Shooting Academy (KSA).
KSSC is the custodian of the Kraaifontein Sport Shooting facility and the KSA is a service provider for firearms training.
He said KSSC had no involvement with KSA other than an understanding that it could use the club’s facility for firearms training.
“Based on this, we, as KSSC, can’t comment on what is happening with the management of KSA or its future in the industry,” he said.
The Northern News contacted KSA on the cellphone and landline numbers and the email address provided on its website and left messages but by the time of going to print we were unable to get hold of anyone.
According to the KSA’s website, the academy is accredited to provide a range of firearm training and to sell guns.
The academy’s registration numbers with five “governing bodies” were also listed.
Facebook users were unimpressed by the news of the bust saying it was a publicity stunt.
Rynier van Tonder said: “Ninety percent of those weapons are more than likely the property of people that are waiting for licences. What do these people do once their applications get approved? Where do they get their guns?”
Kevin Seyffert asked: “Seeing as the owner passed away, has another application been made for the licensing. What is the legal status considering his unexpected death?
“Surely there is something in our law covering the management of licences when the holder passes away. Surely the executer of the estate has certain legal rights, how long do they remain valid?”
Gareth McKerrell said: “So, make it out to be a huge illicit firearms bust when it really isn’t? Hope none of those guns people are waiting for licenses to be approved go ‘missing’. That would be unusual.”
Schalk Visagie said: “The Firearm Act is an absolute mess.”
Jean Byrne wanted to know: “Who are they going to prosecute? Funny how the check was conducted so soon after the person died. I guess it’s easier for them to take legally held firearms rather than the illegal ones. Too much work.”
But someone who had had a similar experience said: “That is actually what they do regularly. They came and checked up on my father’s firearms a couple of times after he passed away. I was lucky that they were understanding since, as the executor, I didn’t apply for a storage certificate as the estate lawyers didn’t inform me of the correct process to follow.
They said, ‘Keep it in the safe and apply for licences after the estate has been wrapped up.’”
But not all the comments took aim at the police.
Riaan le Roux said: “Well, I for one have confidence in Durbanville and Kraaifontein SAPS and the surrounding SAPS stations.”
NtateMahoota Machesa said: “Good job in securing this cache since their owner is no more. It was going to be another drama had one of these been found to have been used to commit crime later in the year and be traced to a deceased person. Thumbs up.”
Inathi Linganiso said: “Good work, guys in blue.”