South Africans surrender over 2,000 weapons in amnesty
Most murders and robberies in country are committed using firearms
South Africans have surrendered at least 2,266 firearms since the government announced an amnesty period for owners of illegal or unwanted firearms and ammunition in December, Police Minister Bheki Cele said Tuesday.
The firearms amnesty started on Dec. 1, 2019 and will end on May 31, 2020.
“To say that the firearm amnesty period has kicked off on a good note would be an understatement. These numbers keep on growing daily,” Cele said at the Linden police station in Johannesburg.
According to the South African Government News Agency, the minister said a total of 31,382 rounds of ammunition were now also in the hands of the police.
Cele said the good results imply that South Africans are responding to the call to remove illegal and unwanted firearms from the streets.
According to non-profit organization Gun Free South Africa, which advocates for a gun-free society, there are around 4,500,000 registered gun owners in the country.
It said on average, 23 people are killed every day in South Africa due to unlicensed firearms. Meanwhile, 9,855 guns are lost or stolen each year.
“We want to assure the public that we have strengthened our systems to ensure the safekeeping of all submitted firearms. This will continue beyond the amnesty period,” Cele said.
Around 57 people are murdered in South Africa every day, according to the country’s crime statistics.
Most murder cases are linked to gang-related violence and robberies whose perpetrators use unregistered guns.
Many stolen firearms in South Africa also end up in the hands of criminals.
Cele encouraged more South Africans who did not want their firearms or those with illegal firearms to surrender them to the police.
"When the amnesty period lapses in May, rest assured, the law will be tough on those who persist in carrying guns that are not licensed,” he said.
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