Removal of a Firearm | Western Cape Government

Removal of a Firearm


The South African Police Service (SAPS) may remove a firearm under certain circumstances:

  • If you’re in possession of a firearm without a licence, the SAPS may remove the firearm and bring a criminal charge against you.
  • If you have a licence for a firearm but pose a danger, the SAPS can declare you unfit to possess a firearm.
  • If you’re convicted of certain offences, you’re deemed to be unfit to possess a firearm and can’t own a firearm.

Gun and bulletsIllegal possession of firearms

Anyone who has a firearm without a licence is committing an offence. If you report the offence to the SAPS, they can then search for and seize the firearm without a warrant.

You must make a statement to the SAPS at a police station, stating how you know that someone has a firearm without a licence. You can ask the SAPS to open a docket and investigate the matter. The SAPS will seize the firearm and a criminal case will follow.

Licenced firearm owners

If you believe a licensed firearm owner is dangerous and unfit to possess a firearm, make a statement about that at a police station. Ask the Designated Firearms Officer (DFO) to hold a "Section 11 hearing" to declare the person unfit to possess a firearm. The SAPS can hold this hearing if the firearm owner:

  • Has said they would kill or injure themselves or any other person with their firearm.
  • Has a mental condition, tends to be violent, or has a dependence on alcohol or drugs.
  • Has failed to look after the firearm properly to ensure no-one else uses it.

The SAPS will deliver a notice in writing to the person, telling them to appear for a hearing. The SAPS may issue a warrant for the search and seizure of the firearm at the same time. The hearing is usually run by a superintendent of the SAPS or someone of higher rank. The person can be represented by an attorney at the hearing, and may call witnesses and cross-examine them, including the person who made the statement against them.

If the person is found to be unfit to possess a firearm, all their firearms and licences must be surrendered to the SAPS. A declaration of unfitness is usually for a period of not less than 2 years. The Western Cape SAPS processes more successful Section 11 hearings than any other province of South Africa.

Woman shooting at targetIn terms of the Arms and Ammunition Act of 1969, people convicted of the following crimes are automatically deemed to be unfit to possess a firearm:

  • possessing a firearm without a licence
  • pointing a firearm at another person
  • failing to lock away a firearm properly
  • negligent loss of a firearm, including theft because of failure to lock it away properly
  • unlawful firing of a firearm endangering another person or their property, or negligent handling of a firearm
  • any offence in which a firearm was used (unless the person paid an admission of guilt fine).

Anyone convicted of these offences must surrender their firearm to the SAPS. If you know someone that has a gun and is guilty of a firearms-related offence, make a statement at a police station about that. Ask the DFO to ensure the person surrenders the firearm.

Persons convicted of other offences

Courts have the discretion to declare someone unfit to possess a firearm if they’re convicted, particularly on offences involving violence. If you’re a victim of an offence involving violence, it's worth asking the prosecutor in the matter to ask the court for a declaration of unfitness. The prosecutor should do this after the person has been convicted and while sentencing is being decided.

People convicted of the following crimes may be declared unfit to possess a firearm:

  • high treason 
  • sedition 
  • terrorism;
  • subversion 
  • sabotage 
  • public violence
  • intimidation
  • murder
  • malicious injury to property
  • rape
  • assault
  • robbery
  • theft of game
  • breaking or entering any premises, whether under the common law or a statutory provision, with the intent to commit an offence
  • kidnapping
  • child stealing
  • culpable homicide
  • or any conspiracy, incitement or attempt to commit any offence already referred to above.
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The content on this page was last updated on 23 July 2019