Gun Free SA is urging the SAPS to destroy seized and surrendered firearms. The last destruction was in April, when the minister of police noted 60 000 firearms in SAPS stores. Picture: Supplied
Cape Town - Gang violence has become endemic in Cape Town, largely as a result of illegal firearms being distributed to the Cape Flats.

This year alone, almost 2 000 people have died from gun violence, and as recently as this past weekend, six women were gunned down in one incident in Philippi East.

To avoid similar cases and to stop gun violence from escalating even further, Gun Free SA has urged the SAPS to destroy seized and surrendered firearms.

The last such destruction took place in April this year when the minister of police noted that there were still 60000 firearms in SAPS stores that could be destroyed.

Adèle Kirsten, Gun Free SA’s director, said: “It is globally recognised that destroying excess, unwanted and recovered firearms, ammunition and firearm parts is the only way to guarantee that these are not leaked into the illegal pool of weapons.

“Leakages have a lasting impact. First, as gun availability increases, so does gun violence. Guns have again replaced knives as the leading cause of murder in South Africa. Currently, 23 people are shot and killed every day, up from 18 a day in 2009,” said Kirsten.

Kirsten added: “When gun owners hand their guns in to the police, they trust the police to destroy these guns. By not destroying these guns, the police fail the public and South Africa as a whole.

“The result of this loss of confidence is that members of the public with unwanted guns are less likely to hand them in to the police for destruction. Instead, they remain in people’s homes, where they can be used in domestic violence and suicides or be stolen by house robbers. In 2017/18, members of the public reported the loss or theft of 24 guns every day.”

“July 9 was declared by the UN as #GunDestructionDay, making it the official date for destruction of small arms worldwide. In the past decade, global gun stocks have increased, fuelling crime, conflict, gender-based violence, forced migration and more,” said Kirsten.

According to Gun Free SA, “Stockpiling weapons costs more than destroying surpluses. It also creates a high risk of diversion into illegal markets as we’ve seen in South Africa with the 2016 case of Christiaan Prinsloo - a police officer who sold 2 000-plus guns handed in to the police for destruction to gang leaders on the Cape Flats.”

Gun Free SA believes that as long as guns remain intact under police custody, they are at risk of being leaked back to the public.

The threat of these firearms entering back into communities is enough to stop people from bringing unwanted weapons to the police in the first place, the group says.

The group claims that as people begin to believe that the weapons won’t actually be destroyed, they end up keeping the guns in their homes, an easy access point for robbers.

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