Best of 2022: SA gun violence continues to rise

Gun violence continues unabated in South Africa. File photo: Pixabay

Gun violence continues unabated in South Africa. File photo: Pixabay

Published Dec 25, 2022


Cape Town – Gun violence has been on the rise in South Africa and has made headlines with a number of mass shootings in different parts of the country this year.

In the latest incident, three people were gunned down at the weekend in Site C in Khayelitsha, in Cape Town.

Earlier this year a number of tavern shootings occurred in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

On November 23, Police Minister Bheki Cele released the quarter two crime statistics for 2022/23.

During the latest release of the crime statistics, Major-General Norman Sekhukhune said murder increased by 13.6% to 7 004 and was the highest in the Eastern Cape, followed by KZN, the Western Cape and Gauteng.

July was the worst month during the three-month period – recording 28 565 serious crimes, compared with 12 596 recorded in August, and 10 830 in September.

On the Cape Flats, gang violence has flared up in a number of areas including Hanover Park, Manenberg, Lavender Hill, and Ottery where a number of innocent people were caught in the crossfire.

Speaking to IOL earlier this year, an anti-firearm advocacy group, Gun Free SA (GFSA), said it believed the country is experiencing s a gun violence epidemic.

To reduce deaths as a result of firearms, the circulation of firearms must be reduced, it said.

“The biggest source of illegal guns in South Africa are legal guns owned by civilians, which includes the private security industry.

“Legal guns, and the main supply of illegal guns are flooding into this country. Gun dealers have reported an increase in the demand for guns and ammunition, particularly after the July, 2021 unrest,” the group said.

Mary de Haas of the KwaZulu-Natal Violence Monitor also previously stated that almost all illegal firearms were legal before they were leaked into the “illegal pool” and said this happened via loss and theft, fraud, corruption and poor law enforcement, cross-border trafficking and conflict guns.

“There are historic stockpiles, guns coming over the border and far too many going missing from the police and the military, not to mention in the hands of dubious security companies,” De Haas was reported as saying.

While illegal firearms continue to circulate, innocent lives are taken daily.

Residents on the Cape Flats continuously march for peace and justice for those innocent lives taken by gun violence.

Earlier this month, the City of Cape Town expressed its dismay by the latest report tracking progress on firearm-related cases where arrests were made by its enforcement agencies.

The report provides feedback on firearms and ammunition cases in which the City’s three enforcement agencies made arrests and determines the progress of these cases in the criminal justice system.

The report said said between January, 2021 and October, 2022 the City’s enforcement agencies made 674 arrested related to possession of illegal firearms and ammunition, but there have been only six convictions in these cases.

The convictions are linked to members of the City’s Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (Leap), who have played a pivotal role alongside the SAPS in ensuring firearms are taken off the streets.

The mayoral committee member for safety and security, alderman JP Smith, said the criminal justice system is failing communities.

“This paints a very bleak picture and one suspects that the conviction rate related to arrests made by the SAPS is likely as low, but we do not have the ability to test their outcomes…

“The crux of the matter is that the public in suburbs plagued by gun violence are being failed by the criminal justice system.

“Apart from the fact that cases move through the courts at a snail’s pace for a myriad reasons, including unmanageable case loads for detectives and public prosecutors, the forensic services too are starved of resources,” Smith said.

He said investment should be made into the criminal justice system.

“There is no way that we can hope to win this battle until there is a massive investment in our criminal justice system, because as things stand, this situation will only deteriorate given the daily successes and confiscations on the ground by our staff,” Smith said.

According to safety and security portfolio committee chairperson, councillor Mzwakhe Nqavashe, there can be no debate about the positive difference more boots on the ground has man, but the wheels of justice need to be a well-oiled machine if a meaningful difference is to be made in communities.

“The other big issue is the destruction of firearms. It really is of concern that these weapons are not being disposed of locally.

“We’ve already seen how guns are recycled and end up back on our streets, which truly defeats the purpose and dilutes the work that is being done on the ground,” Nqavashe said.

Last week it was announced that the second phase of ShotSpotter has been rolled out in Hanover Park, and is set to be rolled out to other areas soon.

According to ShotSpotter, the technology will assist law enforcement agencies to respond effectively to escalating gunshot incidents in hot spot areas where innocent people are constantly being caught in the crossfire.

The new phase follows the initial phase of the project, which ran from 2016 to 2019, where ShotSpotter technology was installed and operational in Hanover Park and Manenberg.

This saw a significant reduction in shooting incidents and the number of shots per incident, which also saw the recovery of illegal firearms increasing five-fold.

ShotSpotter is an acoustic gunshot detection system that alerts law enforcement authorities to gunfire incidents as soon as they happen.

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