In October 2009, IANSA women from Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre (TLAC) and the Ceasefire Campaign submitted a joint submission to the South African Parliament on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) relating to firearms.

The DVA is widely regarded as one of the more progressive examples of such legislation internationally. In the hope that it can strengthen government and civil society responses to domestic violence in South Africa, the South African Parliament invited submissions on the implementation of DVA 116 of 1998.

The Firearms Control Act 2000 specifies that a gun licence will be refused to anyone with a record of domestic violence and the 1998 DVA includes provisions to seize firearms from offenders after a protection order is granted.

Though the laws complement each other more needs to be done. Both Acts need to be correctly and effectively implemented to ensure that firearms are immediately removed from abusive intimate partners. Some of the recommendations that were presented to Parliament include:

  • Clearer guidelines must be devised for police as to when to affect an arrest when confronted with a domestic violence incident;
  • Section 3 of the DVA is amended to direct the police officer to arrest ('must arrest') instead of offering s/he the option to arrest ('may arrest');
  • Police must question witnesses at the scene of a domestic violence incident, and search for a firearm and remove it, regardless of the state of the alleged abuser or alleged threats with a firearm, and;
  • The interim application order must be strengthened by introducing more questions relating to the presence of firearms; transferring responsibility for requesting the removal of the gun from the complainant to the police, and;
  • Improved wording to make it clear that the firearm must be removed immediately rather than the date specified on the final protection order.