Durban - To reduce South Africa's spiralling murder rate, the country needed to get rid of the murder weapon of choice: guns.

That's according to Adèle Kirsten, Director of Gun Free South Africa who was reacting to the lastest crime figures that showed that 57 South Africans were murdered every day.

National crime statistics show that guns are overwhelmingly the weapon of choice to kill, injure, threaten and intimidate. 

 A shocking 41.3% of murders and 59.5% of aggravated robberies between April 2017 and March 2018 were gun-related. 

The vast majority of these crimes involve handguns: Between April 1999 and March 2000 and April 2013 and March 2014 14, handguns were used in 94% of murders and 97% of aggravated robberies.

Kirsten said violent crime has not been this high since late 1990 when the number of guns in South Africa peaked.  

"Government’s response to the 1990’s crime wave focused on reducing the availability of guns in communities e.g. through police operations to recover and destroy illegal guns and stricter controls (including the Firearms Control Act, 2000) to regulate legal gun ownership in recognition that the majority of illegal guns were once legal before being leaked into the illegal pool," Kirsten said.    

As the number of guns in South Africa declined between 2000 and 2010, so too did violent crime. However, in 2011 these gains began reversing as evidence of poor gun control emerged.

Ronald Menoe, Chairperson of Gun Free South Africa, said fraud, corruption and a dereliction of duty have resulted in a steady increase in the availability of guns in South Africa since 2011, which has, in turn, fed the violent crime epidemic sweeping the country since then.

According to Menoe, experience shows that the crime epidemic threatening public safety can be treated.

"Interventions to reduce the number of guns in circulation between 2000 and 2010 saved thousands of lives nationally in these 10 years. Thousands more can be saved if the government takes urgent and decisive action to decrease the ready availability of guns in our communities.”Menoe said.

Gun Free South Africa calls on the Minister of Police and National Police Commissioner to urgently:

·   Proceed with actions to recover and destroy unwanted, obsolete and illegally held guns as soon as possible, including holding a national firearms amnesty and vigorously undertaking crime-intelligence operations;

·   Review and upgrade weapons storage and destruction facilities to prevent loss and theft and ensure weapons earmarked for destruction are destroyed;

·  Amend the Firearms Control Act (2000) to simplify the administration thereof and rigorously restrict access to handguns, which are highly prized by those who cannot get access through legal channels and are thus overwhelming targeted and used to commit crimes.

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