What’s behind South Africa’s surge in gun violence?

What’s behind South Africa’s surge in gun violence? | DW News

South Africa is grappling with a surge in gun violence. The problem was put in the spotlight after three separate shootings in one weekend left 22 people dead. In all three incidents, suspects opened fire on people in bars before speeding off in vehicles. But even before these shootings, gun crimes in South Africa were increasing at an alarming rate. An average of 23 people are shot and killed in South Africa every day, according to the country’s annual crime statistics.

south africa is grappling with his surge
in gun violence the problem was put in
the spotlight after three separate
shootings in one weekend left 22 people
dead in all three incidents suspects
opened fire on people in bars before
speeding off in vehicles but even before
these shootings gun crimes in south
africa were increasing at an alarming
rate an average of 23 people are shot
and killed in south africa every day
that’s according to the country’s annual
crime statistics i’ll be talking to an
expert about how to address the problem
after this report
packed in these bags are nearly 25 000
firearms confiscated or handed in to
police in south africa
on this day these guns are all going to
be destroyed
south africa has one of the highest
violent crime rates in the world
authorities say illegal weapons in the
hands of criminals are contributing to
the problem
in less privileged communities like this
one where one of the recent tavern
shootings took place
people are terrorized
we don’t feel safe because we don’t know
whether the people responsible for the
shooting are still in our township or
not we’re not safe
we can’t walk in the street or even go
to the shops without feeling nervous we
are afraid because these people could
still be here with us
i would like our government to go door
to door and collect all the illegal
firearms and arrest those found with
illegal firearms they should work day
and night and visit all the shacks and
houses here
because we often get mugged
[Music]
visiting the communities affected by the
recent shooting attacks the country’s
police minister promised more police
presence
we’re going to try and increase police
visibility in the streets of this place
we want to take them back we want to
saturate the streets here it should be
us police
but activists say gun crime in south
africa is part of much wider problems in
the country
including corruption in the police
service
earlier i spoke to zianda stillman a
police and security analyst based in
cape town i asked her what was driving
south africa’s growing gun violence
one of the major drivers of this
epidemic is the fact that there are
gangs that have grown in size over the
past two years in south africa so during
the covert 19 pandemic many gangs whose
operations were disrupted by our
lockdowns and our curfews really changed
their tactic into operating in
extortion rings and an organized crime
within very many communities those same
gangs are now fighting over turf in
those extortion rings and extorting
particularly small business owners the
other factor is that there’s been
for for quite a while a circulation of
illegal guns in the country it’s very
difficult in south africa to get eagle
gun and so you’re starting to see more
and more uh gangs move into the
territory of buying and selling illegal
weapons
so
for instance in the recent attack they
recent gun violence attack an ak-47 was
used right how does someone in south
africa get hold of such a weapon
so we have very very strict gun laws um
and that definitely means that the
average person goes nowhere near a rifle
or a high caliber firearm i would uh
think that in this case particularly
given
a lot of history of illegal guns flowing
into the
both from outside of our border also
within the borders these were very
likely to be stolen weapons they may
have been stolen from the military may
have been stolen from the police
or quite likely as well stolen from
evidence rooms across the country
solution oriented now what can be done
to help stop the flow of these illegal
weapons
i think that there’s really something to
be said around uh the issue of
corruption within the police service uh
or within the military and that’s that
really um drives in some parts uh the
availability of illegal guns we really
need to see the police themselves clamp
down
on how strict they are about giving out
guns or assigning service pistols to
police officers because those can be
stolen and once they are it’s very very
difficult to find them to confiscate
them or to destroy them
that said that’s also a solution
that once a
gun has been
placed into police custody particularly
for evidence once that case is over that
firearm should be destroyed otherwise
it’s kept somewhere
and then you know temptingly a gang
might decide that they uh bust into an
evidence locker room or into a
particular police storage place and
steal those guns there’s i think a lot
of uh or many of these illegal guns that
are going through uh the system and
circulating in the country particularly
around that but but i really want to
emphasize that the issue here isn’t
legal firearm ownership it really is the
fact that we have quite a few leakages
uh particularly from our security
service in terms of these guns
circulating
sienna what more can be done to stem gun
violence
so much of of like i said earlier much
of our issue around gun violence is also
tied to gang violence and what we know
about gangs is that they operate in
highly dysfunctional communities so if
we had communities that were healthier
where there were more economic
opportunities available and really where
people
particularly young people weren’t
tempted into joining gangs i think we
could uh over a long period of time be
able to lower the temptation into
joining gangs or that or for that to be
an attractive option uh for young people
to turn to it is a really hard task and
like i said would take many years but we
have to start somewhere and i think
that’s a big big component of how we
start to stem the tide of gun violence
as the saying goes little drops of water
make a mighty ocean zianda steerman
policing and security analyst in cape
town south africa thank you

 

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