1. The Portfolio Committee on Defence has invited the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Amnesty International to present their positions on the issue of "Small Arms Proliferation and the Need for Control" on 11 March 2005. The Portfolio Committee on Defence has also invited the Department of Defence (DOD) to be present during the ICRC and amnesty International presentations and to provide its input on the subject
  2. The DOD has sought clarification from the Portfolio Committee on its expectation of the DOD input. The response that the DOD got from the Portfolio Committee is that the DOD would be expected to indicate the position of government on the issue of small arms and what has been done to address this problem. The DOD has also been made to understand that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) would also be invited to this session as the issue at hand has an international dimension. The DOD is, however, not certain on whether this invitation to the Department of Foreign Affairs has indeed been sent.

  4. The DOD will be attending the session but would not be in a position to provide a national position nor an international position on the matter. The DOD would only be in a position to provide input on the DOD controlled small arms and how it deals with them in terms on non-proliferation. The international position on the issue of small arms will be best presented by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
  5. The DOD understands the national small arms management programme as the South African Police Service (SAPS) mandate in terms of the Firearms Control Act (Act 60 of 2000). It is thus the SAPS that is best suited to provide the South African position on the issue of small arms proliferation in the country at large. The DOD has informed the Portfolio Committee’s secretariat of the need to also invite the SAPS to the session scheduled for 16 March 2005. The DOD has also stressed to the Portfolio Committee that the invitation of all relevant government stakeholders to the small arms proliferation issue which include the SAPS, the DOD and DFA would help in providing a comprehensive picture of the situation.
  6. AIM

  7. The am of this submission is to provide information to the Portfolio Committee on the DOD'S management of its controlled small arms in order to prevent their proliferation thereof.
  8. SCOPE

  9. This information brief will cover the following important aspects:
  1. Policy Imperatives.
  2. DOD Firearm Control Mechanism



  1. South Africa has committed itself to the international agenda to prevent the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the world. This commitment emanates from the deep understanding of the enormous problems that the misuse of small arms cause in the country, region and the world at large.
  2. South Africa’s policy position on the non-proliferation of small arms was influenced by the following factors:
  1. Concern about the impact of small arms on the reconstruction and development of civil society in the region and beyond.
  2. Concern over high rates of internal conflict, crime and violence.
  1. the policy position has also been reinforced by:
  1. The UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light weapons.
  2. The Bamako Declaration on an African Common Position on the Illicit Proliferation, Circulation and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons.
  3. The Bamako Declaration on an African Common Position on the Illicit Proliferation, Circulation and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons.
  4. The SADC Declaration on Firearms, Ammunition and other related Materials in SADC and Protocol thereto.

10. In order to concretise South Area's position on small arms, the Firearms Control Act (Act 60 of 2002) has been promulgate. The South African Firearms Control Act (Act 60 of 2000) that came into force on 01 July 2004, implements in the South African context measures for proper and effective management of all kinds of firearms and all activities related thereto. The Firearms Control Act (Act 60 of 2000), by all accounts, introduces and implements in the South African jurisdictional area the SADC Protocol on Firearms, the African Bamako Declaration on Firearms and the United Nations Program of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons.


  1. In promoting South Africa’ s policy on the non-proliferation of small aims, the DOD has engaged in the following activities:
  1. Destruction of the DOD surplus and obsolete small arms (Operation Mouflon).
  2. Assisted the Kingdom of Lesotho with the destruction of their own surplus and confiscated small arms (Operation Sardien).
  1. In order to showcase South Africa's experience on the destruction of small aims, the DOD has, with the assistance of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) co-authored a book on small arms destruction.
  2. In order to further promote the South Africa' s policy on the non-proliferation of small arms in the region and the wider African continent, the DOD has engaged in the following initiatives:
  1. Expressed its willingness to assist SADC states with the destruction of small arms as well as the management of stockpiles.
  2. Partnered SADC states in efforts to raise donor funds for the destruction of surplus and obsolete small arms in the region.
  3. Assists in the strengthening of border controls for the purposes of curbing the trafficking in small arms.
  1. The DOD had partnered the Department of Foreign Affairs and the SAPS in its engagements on the United Programme of Action, Bamako Declaration and the SADC Protocol on Small Arms.

  3. the DOD is one of the State Departments that uses, inter alia, firearms in its execution of its mandate. Given the lethality of firearms, the DOD is under an obligation to put into a robust mechanism to ensure that the firearms are used and controlled in a proper way. This mechanism should ensure that each firearm is properly recorded, used, stored and accounted for from the time it enters the DOD right up to the time when it exits the DOD system. In view of this, the DOD has put into place the following firearms control mechanisms.
  1. Firearms Control Centers.
  2. Inventory Control at Head Office.
  3. Firearm Register.
  4. Inventory Control at User Level.
  5. Proper Firearms Warehousing.
  6. Firearm Disposal Mechanism.


  1. Firearm Control Centers were established in January 2000 at the Defence Head Office (Chief of Logistics). The primary functions of the Firearm Control Center are as follows:
  1. Issue policy guidelines on the use and control of firearms in the DOD.
  2. Liaise with the SAPS and the SAPS Central Firearms Registry on matters of tracing and collecting of missing SANDF firearms.
  3. Exchange day to day queries, information and strategic issues with SAPS.
  4. Plan and manage of special firearms projects i.e. mass firearms destruction (Operation Mouflon and Operation Sardien).
  5. Manage the DOD central database and workstation for firearms.
  1. Since its establishment, the DOD Firearms Control Center has achieved the following successes:
  1. 4 045 lost DOD firearms have been recovered.
  2. Effective communication network and working relationship had been established between the DOD and the SAPS.


  1. all firearms received in the DOD are identified and codified in accordance with international codification standards. Each firearm is also uniquely identified in terms of its configuration e.g. description and calibre.
  2. Firearms Register

  3. The DOD has a computerized register reflecting all firearms kept in the DOD per firearm serial number. This register is utilized in managing the firearms through their lifecycle (i.e. Acquisition to Disposal). All records of firearms, once disposed off, are kept for future reference. The present records date back to 1988.



  1. In order to control the firearms inventory at the level of the users, the DOD has the following system in place:
  1. Accounting for Weapons. Over and above the equipment register, all weapons are also accounted for on a computerized accounting system at the user level. All weapons are verified twice a year in accordance with the DOD set policy. A physical verification is then done per weapon serial number and exception reports are utilized to establish and monitor discrepancies
  2. Management of Weapons Issued to Individuals. There are instances in the DOD that require that weapons be issued to individuals for official purposes. Before weapons can be issued in those instances, it is the DOD laid down procedure that an application has to be submitted. In that application, the applicant has to fully disclose reasons for the application. The applicant must also have a fixed safe where the weapon will be kept if not on person. Once the applicant has fully satisfied all the requirements, a permit is issued. All weapons issued to individuals for official use are physically inspected once a year and new permit issued if the all the necessary requirements are still being compile with.
  3. Weapons Loses. Despite the stringent DOD firearms control system, there are instances where weapons can get lost. If a weapon does get lost, the following actions are instituted:
    1. Losses are reported immidiately to the SAPS, Military Police, Intelligence, Logistics and Finance Divisions
    2. A board of enquiry is convened to establish reasons why the weapons got lost and make recommendations on the course of action to be followed in the matter.
    3. Losses are registered on the equipment register for future reference.
  1. Warehousing. The bulk of the DOD weapons are stored in holding Departments with very little stored at user level. The warehouses where these weapons are kept have been constructed or upgraded specifically for the safe keeping of weapons. A specific instruction with regard to the management of keys and entrance to those warehouses has also been issued. The instruction specifically states that:
    1. Warehouse doors must have two locks with separate members in possession of keys per lock.
    1. Spare keys must at all times be kept locked up with the Officer Commanding.
    2. A register must be kept of all people who enter the warehouse. The register must identify the person entering the warehouse and the reason for such entrance.


  1. Like many other instruments that the DOD uses, firearms have a lifecycle. After firearms have completed their lifecycle, they can be declared obsolete, redundant or unserviceable. Once this stage has been reached in the lifespan of a firearm, such firearm has to disposed off. In disposing off a firearm that is obsolete, redundant or unserviceable the following procedure is followed:
    1. The disposal method is destruction by means of defragmentising and the scrap metal is sold to the contractor.
    2. Implementing instruction is formulated to manage the execution of the destruction process at all levels.
    3. Teams are appointed to do the verification, control, security and protection the firearms to be disposed.
    4. A double check is done of the detail and serial number numbers of the firearms by separate verification teams before destruction.
    5. The SAPS are involved with the verification process.
    6. All containers are sealed by security members and seals are checked prior to the destruction process.
    7. The history of the destruction is captured on the equipment register.


  1. The Firearms Control Act (Act 60 of 2000) came into force in September 2004. This Act seeks to enforce improved system of managing firearms in South Africa. The firearms Control Act is applicable to all institutions including the DOD. The DOD, however, enjoys certain exemptions under this Act. Other than those specific areas of exemptions, the DOD has to fully comply with all other provisions of the Act.
  2. The DOD has conducted a thorough legal analysis of the Act. This has been done for the purposes of determining the full implications of the Act on the DOD and its operations. The legal analysis of the Act has revealed that there are various aspects of the Act that the DOD will have to comply with. These aspects include, but are not limited, to the following:
  1. Issuing of weapons permits.
  2. Declaring members fit and competent to posses a firearm.
  3. Accreditation of training with regards to the utilization of firearms.
  1. In order to fully implement these requirements of the Act in the DOD, a Project Tea has been established within the DOD. This Project Team will work very closely with the SAPS in updating the DOD firearms control system to be fully compliant with the requirements of the Firearms Control Act. This team will also form part of the larger National Implementation Team which is an interdepartmental team looking at the implementation of the Act in all government departments.