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South Africa is the second worst country in the world for gun deaths

South Africa is the second worst country in the world for gun deaths

A recent shooting incident in the USA has once again highlighted a glaring gun control problem in the country – but closer to home, South Africa faces problems of its own.

A study conducted by American medical professionals using data from the World Health organisation and Cambridge University’s Small Arms Survey, found the top countries with the most guns per 100 people and total firearm-related deaths per 100,000.

The key focus of the study was on the USA, and its hotly contested debate surrounding gun control, using data from 2010-2012.

South Africa has the second highest rate of gun-related deaths in the world

A more alarming finding for South Africans is that the country was found to have the second highest rate of gun-related deaths in the world at 9.4 deaths per 100,000 people.

That statistic is made worse by the finding that South Africa only has the 16th highest number of guns per 100 people at 12.7.

Sitting at the top of both lists is the USA, with 88.8 guns per 100 people, and a prevalence of 10.2 fire-arm related deaths per 100,000 people.

In 2013, this figure climbed to 10.4 deaths per 100,000.

Countries with the highest gun-related deaths (2012)

# Country Gun deaths per 100,000 population Guns per 100 population
1 United States 10.20 88.8
2 South Africa 9.41 12.7
3 Switzerland 3.84 45.7
4 Finland 3.64 45.3
5 France 3.00 31.2
6 Austria 2.94 30.4
7 New Zealand 2.66 22.6
8 Canada 2.44 30.8
9 Belgium 2.43 17.2
10 Malta 2.16 11.9
11 Israel 1.86 7.3
12 Luxembourg 1.81 15.3
13 Norway 1.78 31.3
14 Portugal 1.77 8.5
15 Greece 1.50 22.5

South Africa was recently rated as the 8th most violent country in the world, with a violent murder rate of 31 per 100,000 people.

Read: South Africa is one of the most violent and unsafe countries in the world

According to the Small Arms Survey, since 1994, homicide rates in South Africa have remained among the highest in the world despite a consistent decline.

The group found that there is a positive correlation between the partial implementation of the Firearms Control Act (FCA) of 2000 and a reduction in firearm homicides.

“(But) better implementation of the law could further reduce levels of firearm homicides,” it said.

According to the SAPS and the Institute for Security Studies, homicides decreased from 66.9 per 100,000 in 1994 to 30.9 in 2011–12.

However, rates above 30 per 100,000 are typically observed in countries at war or with serious ongoing crises.

SA murder rate

SA murder rate

In 2000, the SAPS stopped providing data on the percentage of homicides committed with firearms, but pre-2007 data, as well as information from other sources, have corroborated the information published in the study.

These other sources include data on fatal injuries from medico-legal laboratories and state forensic laboratories from The National Injury Mortality Surveillance System (NIMSS).

One caveat to the data on gun ownership is the unreliability of countries’ capacity to keep record of illegal guns, but the researchers noted that their findings were “reasonably” on par with previous research.

Firearm deaths

SA Firearm deaths

Seeking the roots of South Africa’s high levels of gun-related violence, the Small Arms survey identified challenges in several sectors, namely:

  • Problems implementing the FCA in terms of legistlation and regulation;
  • Policing practices, where the SAPS have used excessive force and firearms;
  • Lack of transformation in policing since the fall of apartheid;
  • Government’s socio-economic policy, in which inequality drives violence;
  • Other persistent challenges such as high unemployment, poor education, poor infrastructure, low levels of public service and government corruption.

“It has been argued that armed violence and systemic poverty and inequality are linked and that countries that experience entrenched forms of armed violence risk getting trapped in cycles of under-development,” the researchers said.

“This review suggests that the chances of breaking out of the cycle of armed violence and under-development are improved when efforts are made on both fronts.”

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BusinessTech's Staff Writer is directly plugged into the South African Internet backbone, and spits out press releases and other news as they receive it. They are believed to be cl...
Join the Conversation (65 comments)
  • CharlieTango

    Well I suppose the SAPS make the biggest impact on this statistic – take Marikana for instance – and those are legal guns…
    As for a better implementation of firearms laws – that’s a joke in SA. Most of the guns used by criminals are supplied by corrupt police officials so what is the point of controlling legal gun owners.

    • To make sure that CRIMINAL & GOVERNMENT (same thing really) have a MONOPOLY ON VIOLENCE!

  • Za Bodie

    How many deaths caused by knife stabbings please? How many causes by road crashes please? How many caused by medical malpractice please? Maybe we should ban ALL knives, all motor vehicles and all medical doctors. Sounds about right for your article I suppose. Effing moronic article.

  • bash

    what is glaringly obvious is that the US has 7 times more guns per head than the RSA and yet the difference in death statitistics are almost nothing. What this article highlights is that South Africans are just far more violent than the rest of the world. It is an attitude issue and not a gun ownership issue.

    furthermore, the government encourages crime by disarming the law-abiding sector of our population. I am personally all for disarmament, but start with where the problem is- disarm criminals and then show the rest of us that we do not need firearms for protection.

    all those weakminded rich people behind their electric fences who advocate against gun ownership, needs to either get out of the debate or fix the problem at its real root.

    • RJM

      Actually what is obvious is that the US has more legal gun ownership than we do. There is no indication that they have more guns per capita though.

      • Kevin Seyffert

        Rim, true enough but way more guns none the less, seems to me we are still missing a few gun deaths there for the stats to work….

    • John Muhleisen

      You say South Africans are much more violent then Americans, that’s not entirely true, most white South Africans and most Asian South Africans are very peaceful and civilised and very little violent crime in South Africa is committed by whites and Asians, it’s the blacks and coloureds that are the very violent people in South Africa and almost all the violent crime in South Africa is committed by blacks and coloureds.

  • Lagmygataf

    If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. Simple. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.

    • ChrisB

      You forgot speed kills and what was the other bumper sticker? Only visiting this planet, yes that’s it.

  • DMTomlinson

    Worst article ever. Gun control is not the problem, for criminals do not care about gun laws – it just makes the lives of legal gun owners even more difficult. You have to figuratively jump trough hoops to get a gun legally. Take away the legal guns, then you have unarmed citizens unable to protect themselves from the marauding horde who does not care about these laws.

    • ChrisB

      You only read what you wanted to in this article, didn’t you?

      No-one is arguing with you. The story is about how many deaths by firearm. They then correlated this with gun control and it appears to be linked. End of.

      • HvR

        1. Correlation doesn’t imply causation

        2. Most of these figures by their own admission deduced; no real valid reason is given why official figures are ignored (that in itself invalidates the study)

        3. The trend with this study and many like it is vague definitions; the seamless switching from “gun death” to “homicide” is clear indication of the lack of impartiality (and by extension the validity of the study)

        As an example country A with more gun control has 10 gun death per 100k and country B with less gun control has 5 gun deaths per 100k. If country A average gun death breakdown is 2 homicide victims, 2 suicide and 6 criminals killed by police or in self defense and country B breakdown is 4 homicide victims and 1 suicide which country would rate as batter?

        Also the graph they use to show the effectiveness of the FCA. Go look at the actual legal firearm number. Increased up to 2005/6 then sharp drop due to hand in as an effect of the FCA (homicide rate actually went up), further drop for the next 2 years and then legal firearm started increasing despite the homicide continuously dropping.

        • ChrisB

          Yes, that’s why I left it at “appears to be linked”. The report itself doesn’t draw any conclusions.

          Did you also notice that the SA *homicide* rate

          “decreased from 66.9 per 100,000 in 1994 to 30.9 in 2011–12” – NB 30.9

          …then go back to the table at the top:
          “Gun deaths per 100,000 population (2012)” – SA 9.4

          What? Isn’t that cause for celebration? In 18 years it comes down from 67 to 31 – a little over 50%; in *the next year* it appears to drop a further 66% from 31 to less than 10.

          Someone just can’t follow the stats.

          • Brett Nortje

            Note how the fastest drop was in the period 1994-2004?

            The Firearms Control Act was promulgated in 2004 – of course, it has yet to be successfully implemented.

      • I think YOU need to of and re-read the article!

  • HvR

    Please take this bull crap GFSA supplied article off and do a bit of your own research.

    Pretty sure gun deaths = suicide with firearm + murdered by firearm + criminals killed by SAPS with firearm + criminal killed by (no longer a) victim with firearm

    “In 2000, the SAPS stopped providing data on the percentage of homicides committed with firearms” yes it is now released by Stats SA, latest 2014 report less than 2% of SA murders a firearm is used. But hey inconvenient truth that doesn’t fit into the political agenda; God forbid Business Tech actually report the truth or do some fact checking.

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  • Simon

    Well, something in that initial table should jump out and slam even the most blind person between the eyes – despite having nowhere near the highest ‘guns per 100 people’, we are very high in the ‘gun deaths per 100 000’….which says that it’s not the gun, it’s the culture of SA. And I’ll wager that of those ‘gun deaths’, an EXCEPTIONALLY tiny percentage (less than 1%) was with legally owned firearms (and I exclude the state; controls for state owned firearms are considerably more lax than for the private citizen, as are the penalties for misuse/loss). In other words, the guns used were either state owned, or unlicensed and used illegally already (ie already ‘controlled’ as much as they can be controlled)

    Also, the FCA of 2000 was only implemented in 2004 AFAIK? In any case, the FCA is an impractical, badly put together piece of rubbish which fails everybody – which is what you get when you don’t listen to people who actually know what they’re talking about (firearm owners, people in the firearm trade, shooting sport organisations), and instead listen to brainless bunny huggers who pride themselves on zero knowledge of actual firearms or anything to do with them other than ‘Guns…bad! Naughty guns!’ Which is why we sit where we are now. Multiple hoops to jump through for the law abiding citizen, easy access for the criminal. Great work GFSA, you’re saving lives! Not!

  • Heidi

    I would like to know whether the author consulted with our famous GFSA people? The people who tend to skew stats to achieve their own agenda

    • ‘STAFF-WRITER’ IS Probably a member of that pit of vipers! Why else wouldn’t they link their name to these lies?

  • Jon Phillips

    Deaths by legally held firearms are negligible. The SAPS has always said this. Why do you spread lies in order to help disarm law-abiding citizens?

    • Because government KNOWs, an ARMED POPULACE is the most pertinent danger to the continual corruption that they exhibit.

  • Heidi

    STAFFWRITER I would suggest that you actually go and verify your statements with Sport Shooting Bodies like GOSA before you spout such rubbish in the public domain.

  • Stephen Palos

    These stats just are not right! Switzerland the THIRD most deaths??? Finland 4th???
    Who fed you these lies?

    • mariuskoch

      It is not that Switzerland is third, it is that only data from those countries are used. Possibly filtering countries at civil war and the rest of Africa because it would skew the data and distract from the goal, witch is to disarm the population. Same with the graph at the bottom of the article showing that gun related deaths (as a percentage of the total) actually slowly increased despite the new gun control law. They make this fact very pale grey while emphasising the decline in bright red. It is like saying “Yeah, but!” to everything…

  • mariuskoch

    Last graph paints a different picture. Homicides have come down apparently from 1994. Homicides involving a gun has actually increased (as a percentage of the whole). Do you guys think those homicides are committed using licenced firearms? How many crimes are committed using state-issued firearms like service pistols, R4- and R5 rifles?

    • There’s a reason the Cash-in-Transit guys need 20mm plate armour. It’s not to stop handguns and hunting rifles, it’s because the ANC has armed criminals to the TEETH.

  • Jan Stapskoen

    If you exclude the US there is a clear trend with higher gun ownership corresponding to less homicide. Clearly there is more to this than discussed here, and the opposing view that firearms held by law-abiding persons make them safer isn’t even mentioned. I find the article biased and franly poor journalism.

  • Frik Groenewald

    Laws are for law abiding citizens, criminals are criminals for a reason, laws don’t stop them and the government don’t keep them in jail when caught. It seems all “news outlets” and I’m this term VERY loosely are pushing the liberal agenda.

    • That’s why they’re too scared to name the ‘Staff-Writer!’

  • JopieFourie

    Its because the responsible citizens have no guns, while the criminals are being supplied (many of them anyway) with guns by the police. I have no gun, and I feel extremely vulnerable.

  • Chris

    ““(But) better implementation of the law could further reduce levels of firearm homicides,” it said.”
    Oh F$@! off. We the legal owners are not the problem with guns deaths in SA. Stop trying to say that we need better laws and controls! That is not going to stop the criminals. Get the criminal’s guns and then you would see a drop first of all in the crime rate and second of all the overall death rate.
    Sick and tired of the government trying to control the law abiding citizens instead of going after the criminals

    • Time for a NEW government. Whether ‘they’ like it or not!

  • Bad Ballie

    LOL< the usual disarm the population bull then. Guns are not the problem, who has them may be, but the civilian popultion must never be disarmed. You want to know where most illegal guns come from, ask the SAP, SADF and ANC, these three government groups are responsible for more gun loses than any other group. You want a safer country, disarm the government.

  • Dear Staff Writer

    How about removing alcohol from the store shelves
    How about throwing people with depression who want to commit suicide in jail ( murder is a crime after all)
    How about outlawing all vehicles on the roads ( cars kill more people than people are murdered in SA and murdered include many other forms of death not just gun violence)

    How about you open your F#*!ing eyes and see how stupid you are?

    • EXACTLY!

      Government doesn’t want to save lives! Don’t be insane.

      THEY JUST WANT YOU DEFENCELESS!!!

  • Willie Senekal

    I wish they could differentiate between the number of guns into handguns, sport guns and hunting rifles. (Sport guns for target shooting and clay pigeons – olympic sports). Most gun-related crimes involve handguns or semi-automatic assault rifles and I think sport and hunting guns should be removed from this statistic. Not saying that there are no deaths as result of these guns, but these are not used predominantly in crime (both criminal action and defence against crime).

  • Martin Cronje

    Who knew there where so many gun nuts? Some of you sound worse than the American NRA. It’s just a article so calm down… and please shoot me

    • It’s P.O.S articles like this which get presented to parliament as FACT by vile liars like GFSA. So how about YOU GTFO!

  • Butch

    It has buggerol to do with the firearms – we have the most criminals with illegalfirearms – the same applies to boys with vehicles -it’s the user of firearm or motor vehicle being a person ofnrerent vice – no law abiding firearmowners etc involved

  • nickn4m3

    This is such a nice objective article. From the article:

    Homicides [1] in South Africa stands at 30.9 per 100,000.
    Firearms account for 9.4 deaths [2] per 100,000.
    So at best, firearms are used in 30% of homicides in South Africa, less than 1 in 3.

    And then we have the lovely graph. Even though the percentage scale on the right hand side goes all the way to the top, making it look like the majority of homicides are gun related, the figure shows that they have remained in a band between between 35 and 45%.

    There does not appear to be a sudden drop-off in 2004 when Act 60 of 2000 came into law, but maybe it took more than the three years depicted here to have an effect. After all, the above figures claim that the percentage of “deaths” have now dropped to 30% of the total number of homicides.

    Does this grey line have any purpose other than to try and deceive people who can’t read graphs into thinking that most homicides are firearm related?

    [1] homicide – is when one human being causes the death of another. Not all homicide is murder, as some killings are manslaughter, and some are lawful, such as when justified by an affirmative defence, like insanity or self-defence.

    [2] deaths – these include homicides and suicides.

    • More media LIES.

      I’m SO glad that traditional news media is dying a quick death. These people don’t deserve to be paid for lying to their readership!

  • Jo

    True, only <2% of violent deaths are because of guns. And over 50% is because of sharp objects, e.g. knives, bottles etc. So why worry about 20%, when 25 times more violent deaths are NOT caused by guns. Get your priorities right! Concentrate on the large volume of deaths, and once you brought that down to 2%, THEN you could bring in deaths caused by guns.

  • nickn4m3

    If legal firearms are the problem, then why is it that you never see something like X% of deaths caused by firearms are caused by legal firearms?

  • Colin Shephard

    This is probably the worst piece of journalism ever. Right up there with lady giving birth to snake and alien abductions. The journalist is not even smart enough to use wikipedia. If he was he would have found that his research is completely wrong unless he is intentionally trying to mislead the readers. Either way, he must be one of those who calls a swimming pool a firepool and then expect us to believe it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm-related_death_rate

  • Educator

    It is a pity the Business Tech openly aligns themselves with the lies and propaganda distributed by Gun Free South Africa (GFSA).

    If you have any basic understanding of statistics you should be able to see that if SA has the 16th highest firearm ownership and second highest firearm related deaths there must be OTHER factors causing the high homicide rates than firearm ownership.

    As was stated below, firearm related deaths includes murder through unlawfully possessed firearms, criminals killed by the SAPS and civilians through self defence, suicides, etc.

    There is furthermore little to no proof internationally that shows that strict firearms control by Government has any positive impact om criminal activities. In fact, according to Stats SA firearms are used in less than 2% of crimes. My question has therefore always been why we insist on focusing on an issue that contributes to less than 2% of the crime in South Africa, while there are clearly more important issues that need to be addressed. Is it perhaps because GFSA has ulterior and darker motives? And can we therefore say that Business Tech supports these ulterior and darker motives by simply publishing the GFSA propaganda without first verifying its correctness?

  • Kevin Seyffert

    Seriously? Who cares how many people are killed by guns, you should be looking at how many people are killed! Period! Anything else is simply sensationalism and using floored stats to make a preordained point!

  • Josh

    BusinessTech, you guys suck

  • What the ACTUAL F***!!!!!

    This is the biggest load of codswallop I’ve EVER seen on Business tech.

    What kind of BULLS*** CHERRYPICKING did you do with this data!!!!!

    How many of those gun deaths were committed by LEGAL gun owners?!!?!?
    How many of them were committed by criminals with access to POLICE & DEFENCE Forces weapons!!!

    FU** YOU! BUSINESS TECH!

    Pull this article !!! Or give us the name of the LIAR who wrote it!!

  • I LOVE the fact that it’s a WHITE pointing the gun! Implying the LEGAL gun owners.
    Man this article is DESPICABLE in SO MANY WAYS!

  • How do you take guns away from people, you make them beg you to do it..

  • Uwe

    place to live without a gun- regardless of whether the crims have guns, knives, spears, bats or toothpicks. K@K place to live without a gun- regardless of whether the crims have guns, knives, spears, bats or toothpicks.

  • Martin Foster

    Firearm owners tend to be individualistic – The powers that be want to impose their collectivism on all of us. Therefore they are forever speaking of “the greatest good” and “we are all in this together” Their slogan is not “divide and conquer” Their slogan is “combine, democratize and rule” They fear individualism!

  • Honda

    Article provides proof that the number of firearms has no correlation to the death by firearm statistic . Countries like Greece, Norway, New Zealand, Canada and France have 2 to 3 time the number of guns in circulation but have a third or less deaths by firearms that SA. If the premise in the article is that more guns means more deaths the above proves that there is no correlation between the number of deaths and the number of firearms. Some other factor is the cause of the high number of deaths in SA, probably something like the high number of illegal guns rather than the number of legal guns used in the article above.

  • 26516ac

    Only problem is that there are no stats stating legally owned as opposed to illegally acquired, here in za most gun related deaths are by taxi organisations , political opponents and brainless cops

  • What the ACTUAL-F!

    This is the biggest load of codswallop I’ve EVER seen on Business tech.

    What kind of BULLS***CHERRYPICKING did you do with this data!!!!!

    How many of those gun deaths were committed by LEGAL gun owners?!!?!?
    How many of them were committed by criminals with access to POLICE & DEFENCE Forces weapons!!!

    STUFF YOU! BUSINESS TECH!

    Pull this article !!! Or give us the name of the LIAR who wrote it!!

  • Jan Nel

    who is the paluka who penned this article, reveal yourself “Staff Writer”, oh by the way here is an open invitation to you, Join us at the shooting range next week end for firearm control practice.

  • Archerbald

    All the haters in the comments section are clearly under some delusional idea that mainstream news is being controlled by a handful of groups who are pushing the agenda of gun control and the outcome of disarming the common man.

    Reminds me a bit of the Muslim nutters who are under the delusion that mainstream news is being controlled by a handful of groups who are pushing the agenda of terrorism and the outcome of alienating a single religious order.

    My My, the similarities of the two equations are so shockingly aligned.

    Draconian laws will not end humanity. It is the hypocrisy of humanity, the hypocrisy of the common man, that will end humanity.

  • John Muhleisen

    This article is a load of crap, America does not have the highest gun death rate in the world, lots of other countries which are third world have much higher gun death rates then America and South Africa’s gun death rate is much higher then America’s gun death rate, Russia also has a higher gun death rate then America and the country which use to have the highest gun death rate in the world was Colombia and the country which now has the highest gun death rate in the world is Venezuela.

  • John Muhleisen

    America by far has the highest gun death rate in the first world but it’s the second world and third world countries which have the highest gun death rates in the world.

  • Geof Kirby

    SA statistics pale in comparison to the South American ones which appear to be omitted from the global figures. eg : Brazil 19.2, Columbia 25.3, El Salvador 26.84, Guatemala 29.62, Hondorus 67.18 and so on. Factor all these shocking figures in and SA doesn’t look that bad. Certainly nowhere enough to justify your totally misleading headline. You should be ashamed of such shoddy, disengenous journalism and your editor should be censored for passing this rubbish.

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