Over the years Gun Free SA has raised concern that poor enforcement of the Firearms Control Act (2000) has led to thousands of people being shot and killed. Published research from South Africa now proves this link, showing that strong gun laws save lives, lax enforcement kills, and that illegally channelled guns kill more people in the short term.
In sum, the researchers show that two known breakdowns in the enforcement of the Firearms Control Act by the police whereby guns leaked onto the Cape Flats has resulted in Cape Flats communities being shot and killed at a much higher rate than other Cape Town communities.
The two breakdowns are:
- Firearms meant to be destroyed by police were sold to gangsters in the Western Cape: An ex-police officer, Christiaan Prinsloo, has been sentenced to 18 years for his role in the ‘guns to gangs’ saga; his alleged accomplices have yet to stand trial.
- Fraud, corruption and lax processing by police in issuing gun licences: Firearm applications were fast-tracked by the police to deal with backlogs in 2010 while incidents of fraud in the issuing of gun licences (e.g. three police officials have just been suspended after issuing licences to a known 28s’ gang leader and his family) mean people who are not “fit and proper” have been granted gun licences.
As the world marks this year’s Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence, we call on our government to take immediate action to stop the crisis of gun violence sweeping across our country, especially the Cape Flats, including by:
- Ensuring that all investigations into organised crime activities involving the deliberate leakage of legal firearms into the illegal market are urgently undertaken and are given the necessary resources.
- Holding a national no-questions asked firearms amnesty and public gun destruction, to ensure that firearms are taken off our streets.
- Enforcing the Firearms Control Act, including:
• Immediate implementation of measures to stop guns leaking from SAPS stores and other secure facilities in which recovered weapons are stored.
• Undertaking a forensic audit of all licences, permits and authorisations issued as a result of the 2010 turn-around strategy of the Central Firearms Registry, to ensure that due process was followed.
- Bringing the Firearms Control Amendment Bill to Parliament in 2018.
South Africa has a world class gun law, which, as this Briefing shows, has saved thousands of lives; if it’s properly enforced it has the potential to save thousands more.