What do 10-year-old Jaylin Scullard, 27-year-old Senzo Meyiwa and 29-year-old Reeva Steenkamp have in common? All of them had their lives cut short due to gun violence. Scullard was playing in front of his house when he was shot dead. He is one of many children often caught in fatal crossfire between gangs in the Cape Flats. Steenkamp had her life ended by bullets blasted at her through a bathroom door and Bafana Bafana captain Meyiwa’s death shocked the nation – a senseless death involving a firearm.
Gun statistics are often debated but they do paint a concerning picture. In a 2008 government report, it was reported that most homicides were committed using illegal guns. In a national police report for the year 2013/2014, a total of 15 420 illegal firearms and ammunition were reported. KwaZulu Natal topped the list with 4586 cases and Northern Cape came last with 94 cases.
Tighten gun control
I attended a meeting by the portfolio committee on policing at parliament where they dealt with the issue of gun violence. The Civilian Secretariat for Police, which reports on police conduct and performance, recently put together a draft Firearms Control Amendment Bill. The bill still needs to be finalised as gun control has taken the spotlight in our country. This new bill, among a few other changes, will see criminals who commit crimes with firearms face hefty prison sentences. And they’re not the only ones fighting for tighter gun control.
Justice for a fallen sports star
SAFA announced a special team of experts to run the Senzo Meyiwa Gun Campaign. Advocate Norman Arendse will head the campaign that also sees advocate George Bizos, former Pirates veteran Jomo Sono, former constitutional court judge Kate O’Regan and archbishop Thabo Makgoba as part of this unit. This campaign will be focused on getting illegal, stolen and unlicensed guns removed and melted to create a statue in the slain Bafana captain’s honor. Gun Free SA also added their support for this campaign. Supporters are due to take their grievances and march to parliament.
What gun lobbyists say
But there are those who believe this campaign is fighting the wrong fight. “This country doesn’t have a gun problem, it has a violence problem and a people problem,” said Gideon Joubert of the Gun Owner’s Association of South Africa (GOSA) in an interview he did with eNCA two weeks ago.
His suggestion on reducing violence: “Start with effective policing. For example, if a firearm is confiscated and destroyed, it should not be sneaked back into the system through corruption. Crime Intelligence plays a massive role at intercepting people before they commit violent crime and that is also a division that has suffered under budget cuts and corruption.”
Whichever side of the debate you are, many lives are affected by gun violence and it is up to us to try and make a difference.
You can watch the eNCA interview with Gideon below.
Follow me on Twitter: _@Sheilan_
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