DM168

Letter From The DM168 Editor

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Gun-Spree South Africa turns New Dawn into darkest night

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Gun-Spree South Africa turns New Dawn into darkest night
It always bothered me that Jacob Zuma’s pièce de résistance at mass rallies was his Umkhonto weSizwe struggle song Awuleth’ Umshini Wami (bring me my machine gun). (Photo: Gallo Images / The Times / Moeletsi Mabe)

Assassinations. Armed robberies. Drive-by shootings. It’s a free-for-all because those appointed to keep the peace seem to be more in love with war. Looting and shooting on a massive scale, from arms deals to State Capture and the bumping off of whistle-blowers, competitors or councillors to get a job with your snout in the trough.

Dear DM168 readers,

I  hate guns. Glocks. AK-47s. R4s. Uzis. Smith & Wessons. I hate them because in the trigger-happy hands of unhinged humans, of which we know there are many, guns release bullets that tear through hearts, brains, skin, lungs, legs and arms.

They maim and murder. They convert innocence into anger and revenge. They cause ruinous wars for generations of families, communities and countries.

A bullet in a brain or heart does not just end an argument, it ends a life – the life of ­someone’s mother, father, brother, sister or best friend.

It always bothered me that Jacob Zuma’s pièce de résistance at mass rallies was his Umkhonto weSizwe struggle song Awuleth’ Umshini Wami (bring me my machine gun). For what exactly did he need his machine gun in a democratic South Africa? Who did he and his supporters need to shoot? Enemies in the ANC? Opposition parties? Journalists who exposed the Nkandla scandal and the Gupta Leaks? Or maybe they needed it to rob a bank. Or a country.

If Reuben Brigety, the US ambassador to South Africa, is to be believed, the ANC government is not as nonaligned in that carnage of a war that Russia is waging against Ukraine as it would have us believe.

The ambassador has claimed that our government supplied weapons and ammunition to Russia on the Russian ship Lady R that docked in Simon’s Town late last year. If this proves to be true, it’s clearly not just dancing Jacob who is longing for his days of Umshini Wami. President Cyril Ramaphosa and his New Dawn, rapidly fading to dusk and utter darkness, and the ANC he leads are just as keen for the spoils of war.

My revulsion towards guns graduated from distaste to a visceral loathing when I witnessed an innocent man being mowed down in front of my eyes by an AK-47-wielding gang of robbers at a tiny Troyeville restaurant in Johannesburg in the early 90s.

The transition between apartheid and democracy was a terribly violent time. Guns proliferated everywhere, from dirty-tricks Security Branch members to Eugene TerreBlanche’s AWB, the IFP, the ANC, Apla and other armed wings of anti-apartheid movements as well as your garden-variety gangster and druglord.

Today, 29 years into democracy and with a bumbling Bheki Cele in charge of the police, Ramaphosa nominally in charge of the country and an enfeebled, under-resourced National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) under Shamila Batoyi, our country feels just as ungovernable and lawless as it was then.

In this week’s DM168, read Caryn Dolley’s heart-wrenching story about the innocent victims shot with guns that were sold by crooked police to gangsters and you will understand why none of us is safe.

Assassinations. Armed robberies. Drive-by shootings. It’s a free-for-all because those appointed to keep the peace seem to be more in love with war. Looting and shooting on a massive scale, from arms deals to State Capture and the bumping off of whistle-blowers, competitors or councillors to get a job with your snout in the trough.

As Rebecca Davis and Victoria O’Regan write in our lead story, despite its budget growing by 82% since 2012, the South African Police Service’s ability to solve murders dropped by 55% and armed robberies by 53%.

The NPA’s 994 vacancies and lack of budget, along with the ineptitude of police, make it impossible for the authority to do its job. Murderers and the masters of State Capture are strolling into the sunset laughing at the nonexistent New Dawn.

Sorry to be so downbeat, but if you need an opportunity to vent as I have about this, or anything else that has been bothering you this week, or you have some bright ideas to change our Gun-Spree South Africa, write to me at [email protected] and I will publish your views on our readers’ page in next week’s paper.

Yours in defence of truth,

Heather

This story first appeared in our weekly DM168 newspaper which is available countrywide for R29.

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Andrew Blaine says:

    May I suggest your emotion is misguided?
    If you hate guns, then you should also hate knives, bows and arrows, and any ither form of weapon? That would be more relevant!
    Firearms have been given a bad name by those who abuse them plus those who are either wary, or afraid, to challenge the users?
    Guns, I was told, are weapons of large calibre, drawn by wheeled vehicles, while hand held weapons are referred to as firearms?
    As a retired animal farmer I can confirm that a firearm is more humane than any other slaughter method for the despatch of animals, but maybe that is not germane to the discussion?
    I feel your hate is misguided and would close by asking if you hate motor vehicles? They kill more people than firearms, even in KZN!

    • Wilhelm van Rooyen says:

      Agreed – it’s not about the “guns”, it’s about the lawlessness and complete disrespect for human life. The criminal or assassin would always be able to find another weapon.

      • Pam Crowsley Crowsley says:

        As you say a firearm is the preferred way to slaughter animals. The point is that guns or firearms are designed to kill. That is the sole purpose for which they are manufactured. Although the other items you mention can also be used to kill, none would compare with the ease and number of victims affected, as so clearly illustrated in the mass shootings occurring in South Africa and around the world.

        With stats of 30 people shot and killed and over 160 injured on a daily basis in South Africa, of which many are pre-meditated incidents, to compare these numbers with those of motor vehicle deaths is disingenuous…

    • Dietmar Horn says:

      You don’t seem to understand that Heather’s “I hate guns. Glocks. AK-47s. R4s. Uzis. Smith & Wessons” is a metaphor for “it’s about the lawlessness and complete disrespect for human life”. Rather, we must ask ourselves why is “lawlessness and complete disrespect for human life” pervasive in our everyday South African lives and seemingly ingrained in the ruling party’s DNA? Why doesn’t the majority of the electorate recognize this and continue to allow themselves to be exploited by this criminal elite instead of sending them into insignificance?

  • Zan-Pierre Beetge says:

    For me I am bit of a hypocrite. I do not like firearms, like any weapon they are designed to hurt, maim or kill. I wish or society was that where no one requires weapons, guns included, apart from its practical uses. But when I just moved into my new home, my neighbour was shot by an intruder from outside her child’s bedroom window, she survived but they had to amputate one of her legs. I realised I needed to arm myself in order to have an answer if the same situation occurred to my household. I do not like it and if I never have to use my firearm on another human being, I would call it a successful ownership. I do train as much as I can find time, because owning a firearm is not responsible if you cannot properly use it, it makes it more a liability. I think why gun violence with crime is so prevalent because look at the country, almost half our population lives below the poverty line, almost half our population is unemployed. Unfortunately I believe desperate people will be driven to desperate situations. Gun violence is not an easy thing to solve, since I believe it a symptom of wider prevalent issues. Luckily ordinary civilians cannot get fully automatic guns legally, but with poor policing, the underworld ready to supply a opportunistic individual with all their firepower requirements. I wonder if we will ever see any resolution to the gun problem in South Africa.

  • Alec Cooper says:

    Thank you, soo very true and soo very sad. Excellent article. Thank you.

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