Gun Free SA: New Year shootings reflect ease of access to weapons

Two people were killed and six wounded in Melville in a drive-by shooting, while 11 were wounded after being shot in Newtown.

Emergency services on scene after a fatal drive-by shooting in Melville in the early hours of 1 January 2020. Picture: Twitter/@EMER_G_MED

JOHANNESBURG - Gun Free South Africa says the shootings in Johannesburg during New Year’s celebrations show that firearms are readily available on South African streets – making for a dangerous situation in a society that’s not known for its conflict resolution skills.

Two people were killed in a drive-by shooting in Melville, while six others were wounded in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

In another incident in Newtown, 11 people were wounded at Mary Fitzgerald Square when shots were fired from the M1 bridge.

Gun Free South Africa estimates that 23 people are killed by firearms in South Africa every day.

Despite this, gun control remains one of the least attended to issues in the country’s public discourse.

The organisation’s spokesperson Adèle Kirsten said the recent shootings were deeply worrying.

“We have to reduce access to weapons as the first step. And we also need to have conversations with our young people about weapons as a response to conflict and how we shift that.”

Kirsten said a national conversation was needed about whether to ban guns outright, such as in nearby Botswana where members of the public may not own firearms.

There are at least 4.5 million licensed guns in South Africa – with over 9,000 reported lost or stolen each year.