MULTIMEDIA | More women arming themselves as crime spirals

Clients increase in self-defence classes and gun stores

Trinity Ming, left, learning self -defence at Thai Fitness Performance Centre in Centurion.
Trinity Ming, left, learning self -defence at Thai Fitness Performance Centre in Centurion.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

A few months ago, Mapaseka* bought herself a blank gun after her home was broken into and her belongings stolen.

On Wednesday, she went to buy her teenage son pepper spray as her fears of falling  victim to crime increase.

She spoke to Sowetan as self-defence academies, shooting ranges and gun stores have recorded an increase in the number of female clients in the past five months.

Mapaseka said she wanted to ensure that her 16-year-old son is armed as crime was out of control.

“Earlier this year, the dogs went crazy, and when my dad went to check, he found two guys in the living room. It was at night. They [thugs] pushed him over and one of them also pushed me to the ground. They stole a TV and other items.

"Following that incident, I decided to protect myself by buying a blank gun [it discharges a muzzle flash and makes an explosive sound when fired]. Now, I'm buying my son pepper spray,” said Mapaseka.

She said her children no longer play outside without supervision.

“I am even scared to let kids play outside because of crime. I make sure that there is someone looking after them.” 

She attributed this to women seeing the need to arm themselves and be able to defend themselves against crime.

Employees from self-defence places said women were buying guns, tasers and pepper sprays, were learning how to shoot and also enrolling in self-defence classes.

Some of the lessons they are taught are practical situational awareness and crime avoidance techniques.

The legalities of self-defence, the psychology of crime, fear control and how to decide when to comply or when to defend yourself during an attack.

Founder of Elite Defence Academy, Desmond Brown, said they typically see a large influx of members in January.

"We've definitely seen a sharp increase in female members, from around 20% last year to 50% or more this year. The age range is typically 25 to 45, with some younger and older. Our youngest female member is 13," he said.

Michelle Lamont, a cashier at the Security and Self-Defence gun store in Pretoria, said: “Mostly, young females come here and buy tasers and pepper spray and they tell me that they are buying them to protect themselves against crime because crime in Pretoria is bad. Some of them are from University of Pretoria as we are close to them,” she said.

Lamont said more men are also buying blank guns.

Manager at West Rand Aerobics and Fanatics, Sbusiso Tshabalala, said more females are partaking in the self-defence classes.

“We have about 25 people who are taking classes and 18 of them are female. These are people who want to prepare themselves in case they are attacked." 

Manager of Thai Fitness in Centurion, Tshwane, Lennert Swart, said they offer classes so that people can be observant of their surroundings.

“More females are joining and I think it's because most men believe that they can fight. So with ladies, they are honest with themselves as they know that they cannot fight."

According to a report issued by insurance company 1st for Women in March, Gauteng and the Western Cape were declared the least safe provinces for women.

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