Firearms are used in almost half of all murders in South Africa. Nevertheless, pressure groups believe that little is being done to enforce adequate firearms control in the country.
Police Minister Bheki Cele released the crime figures for the second quarter on Friday and revealed that firearms are often the weapon of choice in murders.
Gun Free South Africa (GFSA) says that between July and September, three more people per day were killed with firearms. This means that 34 people were killed daily with these weapons.
The latest crime figures show that men with firearms often committed the murders.
However, Claire Taylor, researcher at GFSA, says without adequate gun control there will only be more firearms to kill, injure or threaten people.
“Limiting the availability of firearms saves lives and this has been proven in South Africa’s history,” she says.
“South Africa’s shooting murders were halved from 34 deaths per day in 1998 to 18 shooting murders per day in 2009 when the availability of firearms was reduced. This was thanks to various checks related to the Firearms Control Act.”
Taylor points out that the circulation of illegal firearms began to increase again after the 2010-11 financial year after poor planning, corruption, and theft by law enforcement authorities took hold.
The minister argued on Friday that the police are removing one firearm after another from circulation, and that 2,175 illegal firearms have already been seized in the second quarter.
However, GFSA says more needs to be done, such as setting up specialized firearms units to track down and destroy illegal firearms.
“The control over legal weapons must also improve,” she says.
GFSA called on the government to make amendments to the Firearms Control Act so that loopholes can be avoided and the country’s firearms legislation can “finally align with global obligations and norms”.
The organization also calls for the central firearms registry to become fully functional so that every weapon owned by civilians and the state is traceable from cradle to grave.
‘Cele loses war on crime’
Andrew Whitfield, the DA’s spokesperson on police, says regardless of what is done, one thing is clear: The minister is losing the war against crime.
“Cele entered into a performance agreement in 2020 in which he agreed to reduce contact crimes by 30% within five years, but since he was appointed, contact crimes have increased by 30% while 60% of all murders in the last ten years on Cele head is,” he says.
“Under the leadership of the minister, the SAPS has already lost 8,000 detectives and 5,000 reservists and the DNA backlog still stands at 50,000.
“These shocking figures, which have continued to rise over more than a decade, are a direct result of poor leadership together with poor policy and management decisions.”
Whitfield said he was going to write to pres. Cyril Ramaphosa directs with evidence that Cele is not relinquishing his task and that he should be fired immediately.