police gun
(Gallo)
  • Police minister Bheki Cele on Monday decreed two small changes to voluminous regulations that deal with firearms in South Africa – including their use by "official institutions".
  • Without ever mentioning the SA Police Service (SAPS) directly, the changes effectively exclude police officers from a requirement for practical firearm training every 12 months, as is still the case for soldiers and intelligence officers.
  • Instead police will be required to undergo training only every five years.
  • The changes come into effect immediately.
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.


As of Monday, 9 March, South African police officers need complete practical firearms training only once every five years in terms of regulations that deal with guns in South Africa.

Police minister Bheki Cele on Monday published two small changes to firearms regulations that run to nearly a hundred pages. The amendments do not mention the SAPS directly, nor do they remove requirements for annual testing – which still apply to the defence force, intelligence services, and other state institutions.

But the effect is that, unless the SAPS commissioner deems otherwise, police can now legally be issued firearms and trained in their use only twice per decade.

The SAPS has long struggled with firearms proficiency and testing, leading to thousands of officers either carrying guns they were not technically allowed to use, or having their weapons removed.

A technical change for just the SAPS

The Firearms Control Act makes special provision for "official institutions" to issue guns to their members, with a definition that specifically covers the South African National Defence Force, the SAPS, the Department of Correctional Services, and any intelligence service.

In return for the right to issue their own permits for members to use firearms, those institutions are required to meet certain minimum requirements, including on training. Previously, regulations stipulated "at least one practical training session at least every 12 months or within a shorter period as may be reasonably necessary in the circumstances".

On Monday that provision was altered to make it subject to a new sub-regulation. According to that new sub-regulation, the head of an official institution "must ensure that an employee of that Official Institution undergo at least one practical training session at least every 60 months or within such a shorter period as the head of that official institution may from time to time direct".

The sub-regulation applies to "an employee of an official institution contemplated in section 95(a)(ii)" of the Firearms Act, according to Monday's amendment. That specific section of law deals with only one institution: the South African Police Service.

The amendments are effective immediately.

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