Anti-gun activists call for stricter firearm control as SA heads to the polls

Gun Free SA calls for stricter gun control as we take to the polls. file image

Gun Free SA calls for stricter gun control as we take to the polls. file image

Published May 25, 2024


Cape Town - As we head to the polls in just a few days, anti-gun activists are calling on political parties and citizens to be aware of how they will make use of their mark on the ballot paper, which could see stricter control of firearms and the reduction of crime.

According to Gun Free SA (GFSA), 34 people are shot and killed every day in South Africa and mass shootings are on the increase.

In Nyanga, two separate mass shootings took place this month, leaving eight dead and five injured.

In Khayelitsha, five people were also murdered in a mass shooting last month.

Adèle Kirsten, director of GFSA, said it was for this reason that they were calling on everyone, including politicians, to make their focus how crime is affected by gun violence.

“Addressing gun-related crime must be a priority for any political party if they are serious about making South Africa safe for all.

“The few political parties that do mention guns in their manifestos suggest the solution to violent crime is to deal with illegal guns, with some parties supporting licensed civilian gun ownership for self-protection.

“This ignores the evidence and perpetuates the myth that guns are effective for self-protection.

“It also fails to recognise that while removing illegal guns in our communities is a crucial first step to reduce gun violence, it is not enough, as it stops short of addressing the source of crime: guns.”

Gun Free SA calls for stricter gun control as we take to the polls. Director of Gun Free SA, Adele Kirsten. file image

Kirsten added that the latest information shows most crimes where guns were used were murder, attempted murder, sexual violence and aggravated robbery.

She said often these firearms were found to be legally owned by the State (police, military and other institutions) and ordinary persons or those in the security industry.

Between 2020 and 2023, 16 486 firearms were lost by persons who owned them legally and 2 381 State-owned guns were reported missing.

However, she said, the country did see a reduction in firearm deaths in recent years.

“As a result of stricter gun controls that focused on both recovering and destroying illegal guns and tightening controls of licensed guns to stop their leakage and illegal use, the number of people shot dead almost halved in 10 years,” she said.

“South Africa’s own experience shows that gun control is crime control. Without a comprehensive approach to gun control, gun crime will not reduce, and crime guns will continue to be the weapon of choice to murder, injure, threaten and intimidate.

“We urge voters to stop gun violence on May 29 by asking: Does the party you are thinking of voting for have a plan to combat the rising levels of gun violence in SA?

“What is your party’s position on illegal guns, and how does it plan to stop legal guns becoming crime guns?”

As the country heads to the polls, political parties have been issuing their proposed plans on how to reduce crime and to get guns off the streets.

Herman Mashaba of ActionSA said they have the solution to reduce crime: “ActionSA is the only political party in South Africa which does not pander to the governing party but is able to speak boldly against those found guilty of crime and corruption.

“We are also the only political party which will abolish parole for serious crimes such as rape, murder and drug distribution, and ensure that life in prison means life.”

Build One South Africa acting spokesperson, Roger Solomons, said they had a national strategy to reduce crime and get guns off the streets.

“On a national scale, SAPS is poorly led and disconnected from the communities it is supposed to serve,” he said. “It needs to be professionalised, to proactively anticipate, prevent, react to, and investigate all crimes, no matter how minor.

“Our safety (strategy) provides measures including devolved police forces, elected station commanders, better training, transparent hiring and advancement, and a specialist mostwanted unit.

“Far too often, the police are reduced to clerks, merely taking statements after the criminals are long gone. Fixing the problem requires decentralised policing, by devolving police powers to provinces, regions and municipalities.

“Police training will also re-introduce a focus on fitness, strength and agility. Gone will be the days of police constables too slow to chase criminals, or too overweight to vault fences,” Solomons said.

DA Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde, said during their election campaign to Keep the Western Cape DA, that it was the only province between Gauteng, KZN and the Eastern Cape where murder has declined.

He said this was attributed to the work of LEAP officers, in partnership with the City of Cape Town and the province’s Rural Safety and K9 units.

Weekend Argus