Xingwana calls for stricter gun control

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pretoria – The Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana has called for stricter gun control measures in South Africa, warning that domestic violence was exacerbated by the easy access to guns.

“As a country, we need to wage a sustained and effective campaign against the availability of guns in our homes and streets. I don’t see why if you already have a licence you must be given another licence for another gun.

“As women, we are saying if there is no gun in your home you are much more safer. If you have a gun in your home, the research has demonstrated that you are exposed three times more than someone who has no gun in their home to attack or murder through ... that gun,” Xingwana said.

She added that if there had not been a gun in Oscar Pistorius’ home, Reeva Steenkamp would be alive today.

The minister said she was calling for firmer gun control measures in the country, as well as stricter monitoring of the law and monitoring of the distribution of guns.

Xingwana was addressing the media on Tuesday to highlight the department’s efforts to eliminate gender-based violence.

She announced that the 25th of each month was to be utilised as a platform to ensure that the campaign against gender-based violence takes place throughout the year.

The day was declared the International Orange Day by United Nations Secretary-General, Ban KiMoon. It is aimed at ensuring that violence against women and girls is observed on a monthly basis.

“The awareness is incorporated into our 365 days Action Plan Against Gender-Based Violence. Yesterday [Monday], we met in rural KwaZulu-Natal with women groups, government departments, NGOs, UN Women to mark the national launch of International Orange Day,” Xingwana said.

She reiterated an earlier call for the courts to impose the heaviest possible sentence against perpetrators of women and child abuse.

By giving women and child abusers harsher sentences, the courts were continuing to play a role in sending a message to these abusers that their actions would not be tolerated.

Welcoming the re-establishment of the sexual offences courts, Xingwana said it would help in the speedy prosecution of gender-based violence. “We also note the Minister of Health’s announcement to recruit and train more forensic technicians to staff a fourth forensic laboratory - this will go a long way in processing vital evidence.”

Giving an update on the recently launched National Council Against Gender Based Violence, Xingwana said the council, which will meet four times a year, will be able to discharge its mandate more effectively.

The council will provide leadership, coordination and monitoring of gender-based violence initiatives in South Africa.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is the Patron of the council. It is constituted by government departments or agencies including Justice and Constitutional Development, Education, Health, Correctional Services, Social Development, SAPS and the National Prosecuting Authority.

Other agencies include NGOs and civil society organisations like POWA, COSATU, Gender Links, Sonke Justice as well as religious, traditional leaders and people with disabilities.

It will focus on the five key pillars to end violence. They include:

  • Prevention, outreach programmes and action
  • Response to victims of violence and abuse
  • Support needed for victims of violence
  • Co-ordination and Communications
  • Advocacy, awareness-raising and social campaigns-

The council will use its collective strength to ensure that women and girls are able to fully realise their rights as citizens and to live in safe communities. -