Worship of guns is fanning violence and lawlessness

The writer states that the worship of guns is fanning violence and lawlessness in South Africa.
The writer states that the worship of guns is fanning violence and lawlessness in South Africa.
Image: 123rf/dimjul

It has been clear for a long time that we are a violent and lawless society. But the brutal murder of 12 people in a minibus returning from a funeral of a taxi driver in KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday July 21 has taken us to very deep levels of depravity.

Reports that more than 250 bullets were fired with automatic rifles into the minibus suggest that we are witnessing actions of cold-blooded killers who get a kick out of excessive and gratuitous violence.

If you add to this the fact that the state itself fired an incredible amount of bullets at miners during the Marikana massacre, then you realise that we have to be very, very afraid. Why would the police be appalled by the actions of these killers if they are capable of doing the same against citizens?

Taxi shootings and murders are commonplace in South Africa. Just after the mass murders on Saturday night, there was another shooting in Alexandra township, where a taxi owner lost his life.

Every now and then we hear of the killing of people associated with the taxi business.

It is rumoured that people in the taxi industry have hired gunmen who perpetuate the culture of violence. It is normalised and we seldom hear of arrests and successful prosecutions of these merchants of death.

It is not just the taxi industry that is associated with lawlessness and impunity. Protests by citizens are protected by the constitution and relevant laws in the country, yet more often than not protesters choose to protest illegally, destroy public and private property with impunity, and infringe on the rights of other citizens to go about their own lives in peace.

A prime example of this phenomenon is the latest trend where people block highways and burn and loot trucks on national roads, but nobody is brought to book. It looks like law enforcement agencies are only good at shooting citizens with rubber bullets and not at enforcing the law.

We seldom see cases brought before the courts against those that break the law. Commuter trains are torched almost every week in Cape Town, but no arrests are made. The result is that all and sundry are emboldened to break the law.

The preponderance of guns in our society, both legal and illegal, facilitates the commission of serious crimes in the country, such as rape, robbery and murder. Without automatic rifles, the murder of so many people last Saturday would have been very hard indeed.

For many years now, the Azanian People's Organisation (Azapo) has been calling for the banning of gun ownership by civilians and that gun handling should be restricted to the army and police only, and even then, when on duty.

The idea is that once the prohibition is enacted, law enforcement agencies should ensure that all guns are removed from society.

Of course, for this to happen, you need dedicated and effective law enforcement agencies. Removing guns from civilians would drastically reduce the murder of police officers and serious crimes such as cash-in-transit heists, rapes and murders.

Can you imagine anybody staging a cash-in-transit robbery with a knobkerrie, axe or a knife?

During our exile days in Botswana and Zimbabwe, it was extremely difficult to get a gun licence in those countries. As a result, violent crime of the kind we see on an almost daily basis in South Africa was extremely rare. And, of course, law enforcement in those countries is far superior to that in South Africa.

Our worship of guns is injurious to our society. When are we going to say enough is enough?

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