Interpol symposium hears how illegal guns fuel violence in SA
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Cape Town - Gun crime specialists in South Africa said illegal guns are they main culprits of gun violence in the country.
They were part of nearly 500 participants from 100 countries that gathered virtually for the 5th Interpol Firearm Forensics Symposium to focus on preventive crime and gun strategies.
The three-day symposium ending today, has been organised in co-operation with Ultra Electronics Forensic Technology, with ballistic experts, forensic scientists, law enforcement professionals, policy makers and public safety officials addressing the latest challenges facing law enforcement in firearm-related crime.
Interpol’s director of Operational Support and Analysis, Cyril Gout said each firearm, each cartridge case and each bullet could become the precious asset that generated investigative leads in cases that would otherwise go undetected.
Through interactive sessions, participants explored the fundamental processes and technologies required for a successful firearms programme.
Those included building sustainable crime-gun strategies, the benefits of using multiple technologies to gather, intercept, trace, and compare illicit firearms material, understanding offenders and how they interact, and using Interpol as a central intelligence hub for firearms-related crime, including its ballistic information network (IBIN).
Criminologist at Stellenbosch University's political science department, Guy Lamb, said South Africa has been active, in terms of getting co-operation between different southern African countries on sharing information about firearms that have been used to commit crimes, illegal firearms, and firearms that have been picked up in other countries that belong to South Africa.
Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa said the police in the Western Cape through its constant analysis of crime has realised that illegal firearms were the main generators of serious violent crimes in the province.
Potelwa said it was on that basis every endeavour was being made to rid identified local communities of illegal firearms and ammunition.
She said in the majority of incidence of serious violent crimes such as murders, attempted murders, armed robberies, hijackings, business robberies and cash in transit robberies, the weapon of choice were firearms.
Community Policing Forum (CPF) provincial chairperson Fransina Lukas said: "Within our own local communities the sound of gunfire has become the alarm clock waking many communities."
Lukas said many of those guns were legally acquired firearms which landed in the wrong hands through negligence by owners and robberies by criminals to have it in order to commit crimes.
"Sadly, many law enforcement officers become targeted and victims of crime and some lose their lives because criminals want these guns," she said.