South Africans fighting govt to keep guns, as violence continues to soar | Eastern North Carolina Now | Anther govt. gun grab

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By Darren Taylor

JOHANNESBURG—South Africans are clamouring for guns in the midst of soaring violent crime, while their government tries to pass legislation to outlaw ownership of firearms for self-defense.

“A government is supposed to protect its people. A government is supposed to care about the welfare of citizens,” said Dave Alfonso, outside a firearms dealership in Johannesburg, minutes after his purchase of a 9mm pistol.

“Here we have a government which has established one of the most useless police forces in the world, and under whose watch we are now one of the most dangerous countries on the planet. A government that says South Africa will be safer when private citizens are not allowed to own guns!”

There are no official statistics indicating the recent rise in gun demand, but the police confirm burgeoning demand for firearm licenses.

Weapons dealerships across South Africa report rising trade since the events of last July, when mobs rampaged across several cities, destroying property, looting stores and private homes and attacking people.

Hundreds lost their lives. Law enforcement agencies faced extreme public backlash for their initial slow reaction to the violence, with citizens forced to form vigilante militias to defend their families and property.

“I think that opened a lot of eyes as to what this country could look like in the not-too-distant future, and people have been rushing to arm themselves,” said Nick Yale, who’s been selling firearms in Johannesburg for almost 40 years.

“The last time I saw demand like this was between 1990 and 1994.”

Thousands were killed in the period that Yale mentions, as a South Africa transitioning from apartheid to democracy teetered on the brink of civil war, with assassinations, security force massacres of protesters and bombings by far-Right groups.

South Africa remains one of the most dangerous places on earth, constantly rated as such by global violence and crime watchdog groups.

The World Atlas, for example, collates crime data from around the world, and places South Africa 9th on its list of countries with the most murders, with 36 per 100,000 people. But that ranking springs from data before 2020.

Given that murders have increased exponentially since then, say crime analysts, South Africa’s murders per 100,000 people are now closer to 40, enough to put it on par with Lesotho, the tiny kingdom surrounded by South Africa, and ranked 5th on the World Atlas list.

Several violence monitoring organizations rank South African cities among the most dangerous, with Cape Town’s homicide rate—currently measured at 62.22 people murdered per 100,000 based on 2021 police statistics—being the highest in the world.

The country’s main firearms rights group, Gun Owners of South Africa (GOSA), says weapons sales and license applications spiked again after police released crime statistics in January, numbers that showed increases in all violent crimes, including murder, armed robbery, and rape.

The data showed almost 7,000 murders in the last three months of 2021, an increase of almost 9 percent compared to a year earlier.

Fresh police information indicates almost 6,100 people murdered between January and March 2022, an increase of 22 percent compared to the same period last year.

Almost 11,000 rapes were reported during this period, and almost 14,000 attempted murders.

“We don’t need [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to invade us and bomb us; South Africa is at war with itself. I’m struggling to decide which place is safer at the moment, South Africa or Ukraine,” said member of parliament for the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), Ockert Terblanche.

As flippant as his comment appears to be, a comparison of the numbers of murder victims in South Africa with official civilian deaths in Ukraine gives insight into the scale of horror Africa’s most industrialized economy is enduring.

In early May, the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said 3,381 civilians had been killed in the first 70 days of the Russian invasion.

So, said Terblanche, the civilian death toll in a “full-scale war isn’t too different from the death toll of South Africans murdered over a similar period of time, in a so-called peaceful country.”

GOSA chairman Paul Oxley told The Epoch Times: “In this context, it’s understandable and fair that sensible people want to arm themselves. What’s not understandable is that the government wants to remove citizens’ rights to defend themselves from criminals.”

In May last year, the African National Congress (ANC) government moved to amend the Firearms Control Act. The change, if approved in parliament, would prohibit the issuing of licenses for firearms bought for self-defense.

Following a public outcry and court action, the proposed bill is on hold, but police minister Bheki Cele told The Epoch Times the ANC “remains resolute” in making the amendment, “because it will make South Africa a safer place.”

He explained further: “Our data shows that the majority of gun crimes are committed by criminals in possession of weapons stolen from private citizens.”

The country’s biggest anti-firearms lobby group, Gun-Free South Africa (GFSA), says reducing the numbers of firearms will mean less violent crime.

“We need non-proliferation, in line with international norms and standards. There are too many guns in the country,” said GFSA director Adele Kirsten.

According to international weapons monitoring group, the Small Arms Survey, there are 5.4 million privately held firearms in the country with a population of roughly 60 million.

That’s enough to place South Africa 20th on its list of nations with the most private guns in circulation, but very far away from the 120.5 firearms for every 100 residents in the United States.

Oxley points out that the 5.4 million private guns in South Africa are “legal, and registered by responsible people who have to undergo strict competency training and background checks before they’re permitted to take possession of firearms.”

He said the government should not be trying to limit ownership of legal guns, but should focus instead on seizing the many thousands of illicit weapons left over from the apartheid era.

During apartheid, black people were prohibited from owning firearms. In contrast, the Nationalist government made it relatively easy for whites to get guns, arguing they needed to protect themselves from “communist liberation movements” like the ANC.

But the Soviet Union provided thousands of AK47 assault rifles and Makarov pistols to the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, or “Spear of the Nation.” These were smuggled into South Africa through neighbouring countries, especially Mozambique.

Kirsten said she’d provided the government with “tons” of research showing that limiting legal gun ownership “will lower levels of gun violence and can only do good.”

Rubbish, is Oxley’s response.

“None of what GFSA presents as credible research is applicable to South Africa. It applies to countries in Europe, which don’t have the levels of violent crime that we have here. Europeans don’t have to defend themselves against the kind and scale of threats that are normal in a traumatized, violent nation such as South Africa.

“Our constitution guarantees us the right to life, and if we have that right, then we surely also have the right to protect our lives and to defend the lives of our loved ones.

“Until someone, somewhere, comes up with a better way then the best way to do that is by using firearms, responsibly and safely, but using them when necessary and without hesitation when life is threatened.”

That’s exactly what Ronald Naidoo said he did when he and colleagues from a neighbourhood watch group fought off a crowd of people trying to enter the suburb of Phoenix in the city of Durban last July.

He told The Epoch Times: “If we didn’t have our firearms, I don’t think I’d be standing here right now. The only reason these guys did not invade our area was because we stood guard at all entrances with firearms. When they approached, we shot over their heads and they turned back.”

GOSA says if weapons for personal protection are banned, it’s going to make South Africa even more dangerous than it already is.

“Go into any suburb now and you’ll see that it’s protected by private security officers, not the police, because our police service is broken by corruption, mismanagement, lack of training, and lack of funding,” said Oxley.

“Likewise poor townships, that are often protected by private self-defence units. The new bill, if it becomes law, will mean it’s illegal for private security officers and these units to own firearms.

“It’ll be party-time for the criminals.”

But Cele maintains the self-defence clause must be removed from the Firearms Control Act as soon as possible.

“It’s too easy to abuse. Almost everyone registering a gun says they want it for self-defence. We only want police in this country to have guns.”

GOSA says if parliament passes the law, it’ll challenge it in South Africa’s Constitutional Court, the highest in the land.

“It can’t be that only police have the right to self-defence using firearms,” said Oxley. “What must citizens use to defend themselves against rampant criminality? Knives? Karate?”

Outlaw guns then only criminals (govt. included in as criminals) have guns, and free people are then enslaved.

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( June 17th, 2022 @ 1:42 pm )
When I was in South Africa in 1993, the left over weapons of the leftwing guerillas had gotten into the hands of criminals. There were robberies reported in the media during the weeks I was there being committed with military AK-47s and hand grenades. It was said that the going price in the slum township of Soweto for a military version AK-47 was 100 rand or $30. With criminals having access to this stuff, citizens need to be well armed for self defense.

It is sad that Cape Town has apparently gone downhill. When I was there, it was a relatively safe city. The place where one had to always be on guard for crime, even in broad daylight was Johannesburg, and you did not even think of being out on the street in Jo'burg after dark.

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