The FW de Klerk Foundation recently shared the alarm of many South Africans regarding certain proposals in the recent Firearms Control Act Amendment Bill. Among other things one of the most concerning proposals contained in the Bill is the proposed removal of self-defence as a reason to own a firearm in South Africa.

The Constitution guarantees the right to life and the right to freedom and security of the person – which includes the right to be free from all forms of violence whether they are of a public or private nature. Indeed, the right to life may be regarded as the most fundamental right of all – because, axiomatically, without it none of the other constitutional rights can be enjoyed.

The right to freedom and security of the person – for example not to be subject to violence or rape – is crucial for the enjoyment of the capstone right to human dignity. For this reason, the protection of the lives and persons of citizens is generally regarded as the most fundamental function and duty of any state.

Unfortunately this is a duty that the state in South Africa has lamentably failed to carry out.

South Africa’s murder rate of 35,9 per 100 000 people (2019) is the second highest of any country in the world with a population over 4 million. The highest is Venezuela with 36,69/100K in 2018 – but with only about half South Africa’s number of murders. And the situation is deteriorating. The Minister of Police, Mr Bheki Cele recently released the latest SAPS crime statistics for the first quarter of 2021 – indicating an increase in murder and attempted murder of 8,45% and 8.7% respectively.

The shocking reality is that more than 500 000 people have been murdered in South Africa since 1994 – that is about 100 000 more than the number of US servicemen who died in World War II.

South Africa also has the highest rape rate in the world with 132,4 rapes per 100 000 people. The second highest – Botswana – lags behind South Africa with 92,8/100K. (The EU average is 10,19/100K and that of the USA is 27,3/100K.)

The above figures unfortunately confirm that South Africa is one of the most violent countries in the world.

Whether the state (and by implication South Africa’s security cluster) is capable of carrying out its primary duty of protecting the lives and persons of its citizens has been increasingly questionable over the last years and it was also -sadly- confirmed in light of the recent serious outbreaks of violence, looting and killing in Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal

The Foundation has, in its’ submission, made a number of suggestions and proposals regarding the proposed Bill particularly in light of the recent violence in Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal – most notably that a holistic approach should be adopted by the Police Minister to overall strengthen state and police institutional capacity to combat crime, of which one example could include an increased role for Community Policing Forums in South Africa.

Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation

2 August 2021