Objections against Draft Dangerous Weapons Bill

Written Comment in objection to the DRAFT DANGEROUS WEAPONS BILL, 2011 (NOTICE 606 OF 2011)

The South African Pagan Rights Alliance (SAPRA) has submitted written comment in objection to the draft Dangerous Weapons Bill (2011).

With especial regard to two sections of Chapter Two of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, notably sections 15. and 31. This Alliance wishes to inform the South African Police Services that South African citizens who identify as adherents of Paganism, a constitutionally protected religious movement in South Africa, use a number of clearly identified weapons and other tools, including but not limited to knives, swords, wooden staffs, rods, hammers and axes, whilst conducting religious ceremonies both privately and publicly.

The use of these implements are essential to the symbolism and practice of religious ceremonies practiced by Asatruans, Druids, Wiccans, Magicians and Witches, all of whom identify as Pagans and as belonging to the Pagan religious movement.

Many Pagans, in accordance with religious custom and tradition, and under the sanction of section 15 (2) of the Bill of Rights, make use of public spaces like parks and other public recreation areas, in order to gather and conduct public ritual ceremonies.

This Alliance is of the opinion that the prohibition against the carrying (and using) of these religious items for public ceremony constitutes an infringement of the right of Pagans to practice and maintain their religions as envisioned by sections 15. and 31 of the Bill of Rights.

We urge the honourable Minister of Police, Mr. Nathi Mthethwa, to reconsider this Bill and its proposed banning of the use of weapons and tools, including specifically those mentioned above, in public spaces.

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