Our dear president in his typical way, left South Africa buzzing yesterday when he called for a gun-free state. For according to him, it’s “unprecedented” for more than 50 police officers to be killed in months. Like every other crime in South Africa, this trend of killing police officers is alarming because killing a police officer as expressed by the National police commissioner Riah Phiyega is indeed killing a nation. South Africa is clearly endangered by this trend.
However, reactions to the call for a gun-free South Africa ranges from minor support for the call to overwhelming opposing claims that suggest South Africans will be endangered more if the country is gun-free and then to witty suggestions of Zuma trying to be a wiseacre who’s messing with Obama’s idea of gun control with little or zero intention of dealing with the police-killings.
Addressing media practitioners in Katlehong, where he visited a gathering of families of slain police officers, Zuma lamented that “many of the police and the ordinary citizens have been killed by both illegal arms and legal arms.” Some of which are taken from police officers who are killed because the criminals want the guns the officers are carrying.
Zuma complained that “if the police acted harshly against criminals, they are heavily criticized, with some quarters saying they reminded South Africa of the past. Therefore, the police are expected not to be harsh and to know what to do when faced with danger, while also being expected to protect South Africa’s citizens.” He thinks the “nation has to explain how the police must protect themselves and the country.” And in order to create a persuasive effect the president questioned if it’s ideal to allow the killing of police officers by criminals just because the police are expected to be “soft” and “democratic” even when they’re confronted by criminals who are “not democratic”.
Zuma believed the “nation must give direction so that the police would know what to do if faced by dangerous criminals.” “What is it that we need to do? He asked, and ultimately inquired whether weapons be allowed in South Africa and thereby “walk in danger or should we make South Africa a gun-free country? If yes can we take measures to ensure we disarm the country?”
Disarming South Africa isn’t a bad idea. But then, below are reasons why some critics think Zuma was just trying to feign knowledge when he called for a gun-free South Africa. To them, he took a clue from Obama’s call for gun control in US whereas it’s expected of him to know that gun use situation in both country differs in many ways.
- In USA, most of the people who harmed innocent citizens with their guns, got their guns legally. This is not the case with South Africa for we all know majority (if not all) of the criminals gunning down our police officers got their guns illegally with many of them making deals with police officers to own gun(s). South Africans are not forgetful, we all can recall allegations like Gauteng’s firearm licence division selling firearms, ammunition and gun licences to criminal gangs.
- White farmers are not being killed in the US. Sadly, the situation differs in South Africa. White farmers are being killed and are even told in a song that they will be killed. What’s the rationale in telling these farmers they can’t own a gun to scare-off potential “white farmer killers” where its glaring the security measures of the government is sadly, unreliable?
- Moreover, many South Africans are now tasked out of necessity to protect themselves as those expected to protect the citizens are most times apprehended as perpetrators of crimes. How then can the safety of these citizens be guaranteed when you take from them the power to protect themselves? South Africa is said to be the crime hot-spot of the world. We can’t say that about US.
From the foregoing, a gun-free South Africa is likely to do South Africa more harm than good. To fix police killings and other gun related crimes, the government needs to re-build the security agents first and ensure they are capable of combating crimes in South Africa, they can then proceed and war against illegal possession of guns, and consider gun control measures to make South Africa a gun-free state.