South Africa is battling a surge in firearm-related deaths

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There were 7,351 murders committed with firearms – which include pistols, revolvers, high-calibre and homemade guns – between April 2019 and March this year.

JOHANNESBURG – Advocacy group Gun Free SA says the country’s 1.4% increase in murder rates is largely attributed to gun violence.

The organisation said South Africa was battling a surge in firearm-related deaths due to poor regulations and a lack of compliance.

Police Minister Bheki Cele presented the annual crime statistics on Friday, reflecting crimes committed from April 2019 to March this year.

Over 21,000 people have been killed between that period – that’s 303 more murders than the previous year.

Guns have again topped the list of common weapons used to commit murders and attempted murders in the country.

There were 7,351 murders committed with firearms – which include pistols, revolvers, high-calibre and homemade guns.

Gun Free SA’s Claire Taylor said these statistics were not surprising due to the availability of guns in the country, local communities and homes.

“Forty-five percent of the murders, for which the weapon is known, are gun-related. Unlike knives ,guns are regulated by law and policies. It’s because of poor implementation that we have a massive increase in availability of guns. Gun availability tracks gun violence.”

Taylor said accurate reporting and prohibiting new guns from entering the market would help curb firearm-related crimes.

“We also urge that gunshots be made notifiable. Mandatory reporting of gunshot wounds by health centres will allow the authorities to track gun violence in real-time, identify hotspots, and take the necessary action.”

Parliament has approved the new firearms amnesty period which is expected to begin from Saturday.

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