News and Information

South Africa: Gun Amnesty Hailed a Success
May 17, 2005

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

May 17, 2005
Posted to the web May 17, 2005


South Africa's gun amnesty has been hailed a success, as more than 25,000 illegal firearms have been handed over to police well before the cut-off date on 30 June.

Police Director Phuthi Setati said on Tuesday that the response to the amnesty, which was launched on 1 January and extended in March, "has been very good".

In an upbeat mood he told IRIN, "If we collect only one illegal firearm that's a victory for the police as well as the nation, because that particular firearm will never be in circulation again."

He said, "The aim of the amnesty is to rid the country of illegal firearms that are believed to be in circulation. We think we're winning."

Apart from the 25,418 illegal firearms handed in so far, the amnesty has also prompted legal gun owners to reconsider the necessity of possessing a weapon.

Setati noted that 34,302 legal firearms were voluntarily handed over to police by licensed gun owners. "Fortunately, legal gun owners also wanted to take advantage of this [amnesty] to hand over firearms they feel they don't need anymore," he added.

According to a recent report by the Medical Research Council of South Africa, "firearms remained the single largest cause of [violent] death" in the country.

A 2003 study of fatalities showed that, "of firearm fatalities, 87 percent were violence-related and 12 percent were suicide. In the sample, there were nearly as many firearm deaths as road traffic injuries (6,167 versus 6,324)".
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Setati acknowledged that none of the firearms recovered by police had yet been linked to crimes. "We are still in the process of receiving these firearms and at the end of the day, when the amnesty ends, we will be able to ascertain how many were used in the commission of a crime. But the process is still ongoing."

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]


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