In February 2010, three-year-old Leshay Arnold was killed by a stray bullet in Delft on the Cape Flats. The reason Leshay’s murder made headlines is that it was the first death to be linked to a nationwide gun smuggling syndicate in which a police officer, allegedly working with a gun dealer and a businessman, sold guns handed in to the police by members of the public for destruction to gangsters on the Cape Flats. The corrupt police officer, Christiaan Prinsloo, has admitted he stole 2,400 guns. To date ballistic tests have linked just some of these stolen guns to the shooting of 261 children (aged 18 or younger) on the Cape Flats, of which 89, including Leshay, were killed. That so many children were shot and killed or injured by corruption is tragic at so many levels; including that shootings like this are preventable. To coincide with Youth Month (June), Briefing 5 looks at the growing risk of armed violence for children within an urban context before unpacking three key interventions to protect children, and the broader community, from armed violence. In sum, these are:
1. Reduce the availability of guns by:
- Enacting and enforcing comprehensive national gun laws;
- Ratifying and applying international arms control instruments;
- Undertaking comprehensive disarmament campaigns e.g. amnesties, gun buy-backs and audited gun destructions; and
- Running awareness campaigns to alert the public to changes in gun control policy or practice, and the risks of gun ownership.
2. Limit access to alcohol, because of the close association alcohol has to violence.
3. Plan urban upgrades within the context of rapid and unplanned urban growth, which is an important driver of armed violence.