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Proliferation of illegal firearms raises concern
among lawmakers in South Africa

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African lawmakers on Monday voiced concern over the proliferation of illegal firearms as a new spate of violent crimes grips the country.

Over the weekend, four people were shot and killed in two separate incidents in Cape Town, including a ward councillor for Bloekombos township.

Another councillor was shot and killed last week in Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal Province.

The Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police said in a statement emailed to Xinhua that it is seriously concerned by the violent crimes committed with firearms that are possibly illegal.

The committee called on police to fast-track investigations.

According to the committee, more than 800 firearms were stolen from police stations and members of the public in the 2017/18 financial year, which ended on March 31.

The committee recommended that police prioritize a series of steps to effectively deal with the proliferation of illegal firearms.

These include channeling more resources to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation’s specialized unit focusing on illegal firearms, implementing more projects and network operations initiated by crime intelligence to deal with gun smuggling by criminal syndicates, and enforcing stricter control measures at police stations and in the arms supply of the South African National Defense Force.

The committee stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation with other South African Development Community (SADC) countries to deal with the proliferation and inflow of high-caliber automatic firearms in the region.

It also called for a full-scale review of the Firearms Registry turn-around strategy and a forensic audit of high-risk areas in the licencing of firearms, as well as permits and authorizations.

Gun-owning individuals and law-enforcement agencies must ensure that firearms are stored safely at all times, Committee Chairperson Francois Beukman said.

According to the latest crime statistics released last month by Police Minister Police Minister Bheki Cele, the country’s murder rate has kept an upward trajectory, rising by 6.9 percent in the 2017/18 financial year, during which 20,336 people were murdered.

This translates to a shocking 57 people being murdered every day.

Firearms (41 percent) and knives (31 percent) were the key instruments used to commit murders, according to the report.

The report prompted the ruling African National Congress to demand firmer regulation in the acquisition of firearms and an intensified fight against the possession of illegal firearms in the country.



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