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'An entire family and community are forever changed because of a single gunshot'

1 September 2019 4:30 PM
Tags:
Domestic violence
Domestic Violence Act
Gun Free South Africa
Firearms Control Act
gun licensing
Femicide South Africa
sa murder rate
Adele Kirsten
Adele Kirsten on GFSA's decision to personalise a campaign to ensure women killed by partners don't blur into impersonal numbers.

In one of the latest incidents of femicide in South Africa, champion boxer Leighandre Jegels was shot and killed on Friday, allegedly by her police officer boyfriend who has since been arrested.

She reportedly had a protection order against him.

It's this kind of familiar horror story that Gun Free South Africa is trying to highlight with a campaign aimed at parliamentarians and ultimately at changing the Firearms Control Act.

RELATED: 'Once-off interventions are clearly not useful to end gender-based violence'

ALSO RELATED: UN femicide report: 'The most dangerous place for women may be at home.'

GFSA director Adele Kirsten says the group regularly briefs MPs, but this time decided to name and tell the stories of the victims for a specific reason.

We are very good with the numbers, a lot of our campaign is driven by data, but we often forget about the real person.

Adele Kirsten, Director - Gun Free South Africa

If we say she was a ward councillor, she was a nurse, a magistrate - suddenly it becomes very real and I guess part of it is saying to all of us, this could happen to me. These women look familiar, I could see myself there.

Adele Kirsten, Director - Gun Free South Africa

They aren't just numbers, they are someone's loved one and an entire family and a community are forever changed because of one single gunshot.

Adele Kirsten, Director - Gun Free South Africa

Kirsten says the police and the courts have the authority to remove a gun from a home if there is a reported case of domestic violence, but this is poorly enforced.

Among the reasons she cites are a lack of resources, inadequate knowledge of the law and often, also a sense that a domestic incident is "private" and not a police matter.

The GFSA director believes it is essential that the existing gun law be strengthened

RELATED: 'SAPS doesn't have criteria for a successful gun licence application'

There are some important clauses in the law which talk about if you have a conviction under the domestic violence act you are automatically excluded from even entering into the process of applying for a firearm.

Adele Kirsten, Director - Gun Free South Africa

GFSA is hopeful that there will be an amendment within the next year.

Kirsten says even if there is an interim protection order against someone, it should qualify as grounds for the person not to be eligible for gun licensing.

She contrasts the significant drop in intimate femicide between 1999 and 2009 (the gun law came into effect in 2000) with a spike in the last ten years.

Over the last ten years we're seeing this creeping increase.

Adele Kirsten, Director - Gun Free South Africa

She says this is largely due to the inadequate enforcement of the law, which has also led to an increase in the availability of weapons.

Most weapons start off their life as a legal gun and then through a number of avenues, through loss and theft, fraud and corruption and a bit through cross-border trade, they go into the illegal market.

Adele Kirsten, Director - Gun Free South Africa

Both legal and illegal weapons are used to commit murder against women.

Adele Kirsten, Director - Gun Free South Africa

Click on the link below to listen to this important conversation:


1 September 2019 4:30 PM
Tags:
Domestic violence
Domestic Violence Act
Gun Free South Africa
Firearms Control Act
gun licensing
Femicide South Africa
sa murder rate
Adele Kirsten

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