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SILENCE THE GUNS; NOT THE CHILDREN

  • June 2017
  • Posted By GunFreeSA
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MEDIA STATEMENT

SILENCE THE GUNS; NOT THE CHILDREN

 

Issued by Childsafe South Africa and Gun Free South Africa, Wednesday 7 June 2017: South Africa’s gun violence is reaching critical proportions as the country is embroiled in a gun violence epidemic affecting the safety of the most vulnerable.

 

While marking the 2017 Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence (5 to 12 June) – an international campaign to stop the circulation  and misuse of firearms  and  ammunition – guns are wreaking havoc on the streets of South Africa, affecting leafy suburbs as much as dusty townships. Across the world communities are highlighting the scourge of gun violence and calling for actions to silence the guns.

 

Children as the victims of gun violence are in media headlines almost every day: Schools in a war zone; Woman shoots three children before turning gun on herself; Drive-by-shooting claims life of rising soccer player and two others. South Africa’s gun violence happens daily; the names of victims fleeting, if ever reported, and their voices silenced forever.

 

In February 2010, three-year-old Leshay Arnold was killed by a stray bullet in Delft on the Cape Flats. The reason Leshay’s name made headlines is that it was the first death to be linked to a nationwide syndicate in which a police officer, allegedly working with a gun dealer and a businessman, sold guns that had been handed in to the police by members of the public for destruction to gangsters on the Cape Flats. The corrupt police officer, Christiaan Prinsloo, admits 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 whom 89, including Leshay, were killed; their families left traumatised to pick up the pieces, many too emotionally wounded and fearful to speak about their children’s death.

 

The effects of gun violence have moved beyond crime-ridden areas as the 2016 Victims of Crime Survey shows; the survey reported that one third of households surveyed don’t go to open spaces or parks out of fear of crime, while just less than a quarter do not allow children to play outside for the same reason, concluding that “Going to open spaces or parks and allowing children to play outside are clearly the most affected activities as a result of crime throughout the period 2011-2016.” Is this the way South Africa protects its children? By taking away their freedom of movement and play?

 

On the back of Child Protection Week, the President of Childsafe, Professor Sebastian van As, urges South Africans to question: “Why are the laws meant to protect our children not being enforced?”

 

According to van As, the Firearms Control Act is one of the laws that, if implemented correctly, serves to protect all South Africans, including our children. When it is not, “corruption wins and death ensues.”

 

South Africa saw a significant drop in gun violence in the 10 years after the Firearms Control Act was passed in 2000. However, since 2011, evidence of poor enforcement linked to corruption, began surfacing.  There has been a significant increase of children shot during this same period, with a recent study indicating that over a thirty percent of children presenting with firearm-related injuries at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in the Western Cape; were under the age of 5 years old.

 

South Africa currently has one of the highest rates of gun violence in the world, and thus one of the highest rates of gun violence survivors.

Says Adèle Kirsten, Gun Free South Africa’s Director, “When the Firearms Control Act is  enforced it reduces the chance of guns landing on our streets and killing or injuring our children. When corrupt practices thwart the enforcement of the law, the opposite happens – children are silenced by the gun – and instead of hearing laughter, all we hear are the guns  terrorising  our communities.”

 

Kirsten adds that “it is time to  stop the plague of gun violence; it is time to remove all guns from our streets and out of our homes.”

 

Issued by Gun Free South Africa on behalf of Childsafe South Africa and Gun Free South Africa

 

For more information, including interviews please contact:

 

Adèle Kirsten: 082 853 9776/ adele@gfsa.org.za or

Nurahn Ryklief: 071 876 1135 / nurahn@gfsa.org.za

Professor Sebastian van As – President of Childsafe South Africa and Head of the Trauma Unit at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital:  021 – 6585012 / sebastian.vanas@uct.ac.za

 

 

 

 

Childsafe is a campaign of the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Southern Africa (CAPFSA) and Safe Kids Worldwide promoting optimal health and development of all children under the age of 18.

 

18 people are shot and killed every day in South Africa.Gun Free South Africa is working towards a safer,more secure South Africa, by reducing gun violence.

 

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