Millions intended to be spent on the health needs of Eastern Cape residents have gone missing from d.
POLICE Minister Nathi Mthethwa has urged people in possession of illegal firearms to hand them over to police immediately.
He said if they failed to do so they would face the wrath of the law.
Mthethwa was launching the three-month amnesty aimed at ridding the country of thousands of illegal firearms.
Owners of undocumented firearms have until April 11 to voluntarily hand over their firearms.
Their details would be recorded and if ballistic tests prove that the firearm was used in a crime the person would be prosecuted.
During the first amnesty in 2004 and 2005, 98000 illegal firearms were handed in.
Addressing the National Press Club in Pretoria yesterday, Mthethwa said South Africa had a significant pool of illegal guns contributing to the high rate of serious and violent crime.
He said the "Awuleth' Umshini wakho - Surrender Your Firearm" amnesty theme was intended to rid the country of illegal guns.
"The period should therefore not be seen in isolation from the government's efforts to reduce the number of illegal firearms in circulation, but as part of our holistic approach, which includes promoting responsible ownership of firearms."
Mthethwa said licensed firearm owners are also encouraged to surrender their guns for destruction as prescribed in the Firearms Control Regulations.
He stressed that the call for handing over of licensed firearms was not an effort to disarm documented gun owners.
"Our approach is also targeted at (firearm) manufacturers, gunsmiths and dealers with surplus, obsolete and redundant firearms, ammunition and firearm parts," he said.
Gun Free SA's Natalie Jaynes said they supported the campaign and they would encourage all their constituencies in all regions to hand over their guns and alert police to illegal guns.