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Can patrollers carry their SD firearms?

The question often arises, should a Neighborhood Watch patroller who has a licenced firearm carry his firearm with him when patroling - and is it legal.

A recent article in a Durban newspaper indicated that quoted a local SAPS Captain as saying "However, when working as a patroller, one should not be carrying a firearm,” Captain Hector Netshivhodza of the Lenasia SAPS."

This obviously caused quite a stir within many NHW projects.

The NHW unified Constitition Refers: (Page 6)

The neighbourhood watch structure will ensure that all neighbourhood watch members with firearms declare these to the local South African Police Services or the office of the neighbourhood watch as appointed by the resident station commissioner of the South African Police Services

The above of course throws more confusion into the mix.

The answer clearly lies with the ruling legislation in this instance which is indeed the Firearms and Ammuntion Control act (FCA).

The law is quite clear. As a licenced firearm owner you may carry your weapon with you except to public gatherings (protests etc.) and to state buildings where it is not permitted (sars etc.). There is no exclusion to what you may be doing when carrying your licenced firearm.

Do bear in mind of course that the normal requirements of the FCA must be complied with in that the firearm must be properly concealed at all times and under your direct control. Your firearm can only be used in accordance with the principles of the FCA.

I've seen people questioning on public forums if they can carry their sporting weapons on NHW duty, this would be ill advised. Technically it could be explainable but I see no reason to play word games with the law and run that risk. Stick to your self defence firearm.

Some NHW projects may require that you do indeed notify the SAPS in whose area you are on patrol that you are armed and just show them a copy of your licence. No problem there.

If you're going to carry a firearm on patrol, I would strongly advise that you attend a local weapon-retention workshop and spend as much time as possible training at a local shooting range. Training has become very competitive and affordable in South Africa over the past decade and you'll have no problem finding some world-class skills at your local shooting club.

You would also be well advised to get a holster that has a retention clip of some sort. Working on a NHW means that you're increasing the risk of stumbling onto something happening (housebreaking etc.) and the chances of there being multiple assailants are high - so some extra retention wouldn't be a bad thing.