LOBBY group Gun Free South Africa (GFSA) says the government should establish a specialised firearms unit that will undertake the task of recovery and destruction of illegal firearms if it’s serious about curbing the escalating murder rate in the country.
The organization’s statement comes after crime statistics released by Police Minister Bheki Cele a few days ago showed that gun-related crimes had significantly increased to 35%.
The number of people shot and killed daily increased from 23 in the 2021/2022 financial year to 31 people in the 2022/2023 financial year.
“The reason why we say the special unity is needed is the fact that we have realised that the ordinary SAPS members don’t have the skills and capacity to undertake this task. GFSA was present during the presentation by SAPS of the latest crime stats and deliberation by parliament and we are deeply concerned by the lack of engagement on what will be done to address gun-related crime in South Africa,” said GFSA researcher Claire Taylor.
Taylor said most gun-related crimes were committed with illegal guns. She said the government was not doing enough to locate and destroy illegal firearms that were scattered within the communities.
Taylor insisted that most if not all, illegal guns in SA were once legally held before falling into criminal hands.
“We need to urgently reduce gun availability to address the epidemic of gun violence. This requires tightening controls over legal guns to stop them from leaking into criminal hands. We need to urgently reduce gun availability to address the epidemic of gun violence.”
“Recordkeeping, which is managed by the Central Firearms Registry, is a cornerstone of gun control – and allows the state to know who owns what gun at any time. After years and years of corruption, incompetence, and failed attempts at turnaround strategies, on 3 May 2023, the National Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola told Parliament that the State Information Technology Agency awarded a contract concerning the Central Firearms Registry on 5 April 2023.”
She has called on the authorities to table the Firearms Control Amendment Bill, saying it would play a vital role in the fight against the handling of guns.
The statistics indicated a 3.4% increase in the murder rate between January and March this year.
According to the 4th Quarter Crime figures, 6 285 people were killed in the three months under review, with most of the murders happening in Kwazulu Natal, Western Cape, and Gauteng.
Kwazulu Natal also has the unenviable tag of having the most reported multiple murder cases, claiming 205 victims between January and March, followed by the Eastern Cape, with 155 reported victims.
According to the statistics, the number of reported rape cases has slumped, with six provinces reporting fewer cases.
A total of 10 512 people were raped in the first three months of this year.