Citation(s) from the literature library

Pefole, Katleho. 2004 ‘Legislative Control of Firearms.’ Hide and Seek: Taking Account of Small Arms in Southern Africa, pp. 65-66. Pretoria: Institute for Security Studies. 1 October

Relevant contents

The Internal Security (Arms and Ammunition) Act no. 17 of 1966 prohibits the possession, sale or transfer of a firearm and/or ammunition without a licence issued by the Commissioner of Police. The Act also prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition by people under the age of 18, alcoholics, and mentally disturbed people. People with a criminal record for an offence involving violence, and who have been sentenced to six or more months in jail, may not possess firearms for a period of five years after their release from jail…

The penalties for contravening the provisions of the Internal Security (Arms and Ammunition) Act (1966) were increased through adoption of the Internal Security (Arms and Ammunition) Amendment Act (No 4 of 1999). The penalty for purchasing or possessing a firearm or ammunition without a certificate, or making a false statement when applying for a firearm certificate, carries a penalty of a minimum of M500 (US$ 74.4553) or a minimum imprisonment of six months, or both. The use, or attempted use, of a firearm or ammunition with the intent to endanger human life, or cause injury to any person or property, carries a minimum sentence of five years imprisonment. Carrying or using a firearm with the intent to commit an offence, or to prevent or resist lawful apprehension or detention, carries a minimum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Failure to renew a firearm certificate carries a penalty of M10 (US$ 1.49) for each month that the offence continues.

A significant weakness of the Act is the absence of a definition of 'possession'…(54)

The failure to monitor licenced firearms makes it impossible to trace cases in which people were awarded a licence under circumstances which are no longer valid. For example, owners of a business may sell the business, but retain the firearm licence they were granted so as to protect the business. This means it is likely that there are more people in possession of licenced firearms than intended by the law.

In an attempt to control the proliferation of illegal firearms the government established the Counter Crime Unit in March 1999. This is a special body comprising police officers and soldiers whose task is to search for unlicenced firearms and arrest the culprits. According to Superintendent Sekoateng Serabele of the LMPS, the Unit has managed to unearth more than 2,000 unlicenced firearms to date, including both heavy and light calibre weapons.

[LMPS = Lesotho Mounted Police Service]


54) Sakoane, June 2001.

ID: Q8805

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