File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

ActionSA, Girls on Fire, farmers, IRR among many strongly opposed to ’no guns for self-defence’ bill

By IOL Reporter Time of article published May 26, 2021

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* This story was updated on 19 July 2021.

Cape Town – ActionSA president Herman Mashaba, one of many, believes the SAPS must focus on disarming criminals – not law-abiding citizens. Among those who feel especially vulnerable are farmers and women in townships.

The DA has launched a petition against the Firearms Control Amendment Bill which proposes a ban on firearm ownership for self-defence by civilians. And a concerned Tshepi Mmekwa, the spokesperson for Girls on Fire, said an increasing number of women in townships are using guns to defend themselves, Netwerk24 reported

’’We must protect gun ownership for self-defence as it is the last line of defence for millions of South Africans,’’ said the DA, referencing the fact that South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in the world.

Mashaba said: ’’If passed, the bill will also enforce unreasonable restrictions on sport shooters and game hunters and potentially harm the private security sector, inevitably adversely impacting our ailing economy.

’’We strongly reject this amendment to gun ownership laws and will oppose this amendment through the appropriate channels.

’’Every day, the good, law-abiding and peace-loving people of South Africa are besieged by crime and live in fear, while criminal syndicates act with impunity.

’’In the face of an over-burdened and under-resourced SAPS, the last measure of protection available to many South Africans is to defend themselves, their families and their property with legally owned firearms. We cannot allow this last measure of protection to be removed.’’

Mmekwa said the crime situation in townships is ’’scary’’ and people have lost trust in the police, with residents resorting to patrolling the streets themselves.

According to Paul Oxley, from Gun Owners of South Africa, more than 60% of gun owners are black.

However, independent fact-checking organisation Africa Check says this statistic is unproven. “An expert from the Southern African Council for Natural Scientific Professions told us that that the figure was a ’guesstimate’ from a research draft that is under review and yet to be published. The police ministry spokesperson also informed us that gun ownership data is ’not categorised according to race’, ” the organisation said.

According to Mmekwa, there are no statistics to back up Police Minister Bheki Cele and Gun Free SA’s claims that firearm possession leads to more violence against women and children.

’’If I have a firearm, then I can protect myself, my family and my neighbours when there is a problem. People in townships call the police but they never come.

’’A firearm makes it a more equal playing field for women,’’ said Mmekwa, who claimed that some police officers aren’t even in possession of proficiency certificates for their weapons.

The SA Institute for Race Relations campaigns head, Gabriel Crouse, said it has asked its attorneys to send a letter to the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service (CSP) asking for more detail on the proposed policy to restrict civilian access to firearms for self-defence, and for it to provide the IRR with the research and data it used to frame the policy. The IRR warned the CSP that it would support legal action to have the policy scrapped.

DA police spokesperson Andrew Whitfield says Cele has made his views on gun ownership crystal clear on more than one occasion. He wants to disarm law-abiding citizens while his very own SAPS “loses” hundreds of its own firearms into criminal hands every year.

Whitfield said disarming law-abiding citizens in the current crime-ridden environment is reckless, ill-advised and places many innocent civilians at the mercy of criminals.

The DA urged the public to visit https://petitions.da.org.za/p/stopgunbill and sign the petition to keep “self-defence” as a reason to possess a firearm.

Whitfield also urged the public to submit their objections to [email protected] and to the DA at [email protected]

Theo de Jager, chairperson of the Southern African Agri Initiative, said: “We will oppose the proposal with everything we’ve got. It is a fact that the majority of the firearms that get lost in South Africa come from members of the South African Police Service.’’

South African farmers were, on average, subjected to one farm attack every second day, while a farm murder occurred every five days on average, De Jager said.

Whitfield added: “SAPS is a rapidly fading thin blue line which, by its own admission, cannot deliver on its mandate according to the National Police Commissioner. They should be making it easier for South Africans to feel safe, not more difficult.’’

IOL

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