24 August 2015 - Letter to Dan Plato

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24 August 2015 - Letter to Dan Plato

Postby GOSA » Tue, 2015-08-25 12:19

24 August 2015

Dan Plato
MEC for Community Safety
7th floor 14 Queen Victoria Street,
Cape Town,

Mr. Dan Plato

Open Letter with regards to calls for a firearms amnesty.

Your recent calls for another period of firearms amnesty has not gone unnoticed; As
reported by (*) News 24 in at least two different articles, by EWN and eNCA TV.
I would like to commend you on your willingness to try and make the changes that
would see to a safer place for us all to live, and also on some other statements that
have been reported on.

Firstly, and related to this past weeks reports, “Plato believes poor administration of the
central Firearms Registry has resulted in several illegal guns, subsequently confiscated
by police- being used by local gangsters.”
Sir, I believe that you are at least partially correct in your belief, and that the
administration of the CFR is indeed being poorly administered. Of course that is what
was expected when the almost unworkable process was put in place.
This was confirmed by (amongst others) Gen. R Phiyega, National Commissioner of the
South African Police Service (SAPS) earlier this year at the firearms summit in
Parliament earlier this year.(*2) I will refer to the notes from said summit as it was
probably the most inclusive discussion we have ever had in South Africa on the subject
of firearms.

I was also pleased to see the following quotes, which I believe show your commitment
to understanding what it is that could bring about a safer province:

“He said the study was not aimed at responsible and legal gun owners.”

“Far, far too many of our criminals that are supposed to be in jail are not in jail. They are
still roaming the streets,” Plato said.”

About a year ago, you made the following statement which was reported on by EWN
““I think it’s new for the children, they unknowingly get drawn into gangsterism. They
don’t realise the dire consequences of a gun - that guns might kill another person.” (*3)

Reports from this last week say “he said gang killings were “completely out of control”.”

I could point to many more positive contributions that you have made in general, but
that is not the aim of this letter; so I would like to thank you for the good work that you
do and move along.

The main reason for me writing the letter is to point out a few concerns that I have.
Before I get started, I have not set eyes on the study itself as I have been unable to
locate a copy on short notice.

My first concern is that to the best of my knowledge, the research was done only at
Mitchells Plain, Nyanga, Paarl East and Worcester. These four stations hardly constitute
a reasonable sample of Cape Town, much less the entire Western Cape. As per one of
the media reports you have been reported as saying “A firearm amnesty in the Western
Cape would reduce the circulation of illegally-owned firearms”.

At least one source (*) was responsible enough to report the following “The study
acknowledged several limitations, including a small sample of police precincts and the
fact that police statistics did not provide a breakdown of gun-related crimes.” Which
further emphasises the point. It is not a point that I wish to labor as I believe that you
understand the importance of proper studies and reports as well as responsible
comment on such studies.

Another concern is how we go from “A study of these stations' case dockets found a
firearm was used to attempt to kill someone (attempted murder) in a fifth of all
cases.” (*) turns into being a “gun problem”. What the ,already proven to be poorly
conducted, study shows is that 20% of the attempted murders involved a firearm; what
about the other 80%? Now whilst that 20% is somewhat higher than the national
average of 1.7% (*6) provided by StatsSA, I'm quite certain that you will find that the
incidents of attacks using sharp objects far exceeds that of firearms.

Given these concerns, I feel that the information used for the basis of the comments is
flawed, but worse that it has also been misused. It cannot possibly be true that
something which accounts for a small percentage and which was assessed in a small
and flawed study be considered such a severe problem. Doing so only serves to shift
the focus from the real issues (I will come back to this), hopefully not for nefarious
reasons, and also misleads the public. Thanks to the likes of those who have been
already been exposed as promoting their own agenda using flawed studies, there is
already a lot of public misconception on the subject of firearms.

My second and far bigger concern is the call for an amnesty for people handing in
illegal firearms. Again, I am quite sure that your intentions are in fact good and that you
are trying to make a positive change, but unfortunately I don't think that you have
selected the best option available given the details that we have on the previous
amnesty. With regards to the amnesty I have a few concerns, which I will address in an
order from least concern to greatest concern.

The amnesty would require that criminals, or friends and family thereof turn in tools of
their trade. Doing so would mean that they are unable to ply their trade and provide
for their dependants. I really don't think that expecting that from the career criminal or
gang banger is realistic at all.

The amnesty would require that the firearms be handed in to the SAPS. This is the very
same SAPS that has openly admitted that they are unable to manage the CFR, and
have as yet not made available the report from the commission of enquiry into firearms
control from 2013. Adding to the load of those who already are unable to cope with
the cumbersome system that we have is only courting disaster.

Most disturbingly, and without going into the loss of SAPS firearms that is going on at
the moment in South Africa (that is a discussion for another day), is the rate at which
and the manner in which firearms are ending up back in “the illegal pool”. One doesn't
have to look very far to find information on the way that so called destroyed guns from
the previous amnesty are turning up. I refer to the raid on Mr & Mrs Shmukler-Tishko in
2014 (*4) and the arrest of Colonel Chris Prinsloo (*5) which exposed him for illegally
selling so-called destroyed guns to gangs in the Western Cape, as prime examples of

You can add to this that a large portion of what have been reported as handed in guns
in the previous amnesty were in fact parts and not intact complete or working firearms,
making the success of it questionable at best.

Now I am fully aware that the SAPS were well represented at the firearms summit,
during which I believe they were attentive to the current issues, and I am also aware of
their turnaround strategy and recent efforts to fix the problems of corruption and poor
service. I am also appreciative of the efforts and sacrifices that good SAPS servants
make for the citizens of South Africa. However, such a turnaround, and changing
corruption that dates back to at least the demonstrated date of 2010 will take a while
to address, and with that in mind it doesn't seem that this avenue is the best option.

This brings me back to what I believe your comments should rather be reflecting, and
what I believe that you are aware are the real issues at play here. I say that because
following your news releases for the past few years you have made some excellent
statements outlining exactly this.

Aside from the ones quoted above, reports have included the following:

“He said the high rate of gun-related deaths in gang-riddled communities highlights a
need for a better understanding of the distribution and use of firearms in these
areas.” (*)

“This, says Plato, is because the community is afraid to testify and the local police
station is poorly resourced.” (*7)

“Western Cape Community Safety MEC Dan Plato says he is not surprised by the high
number of young people involved in gangsterism and crime.” (*1)

“Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said, “I’m very disturbed by the fact that despite all
our efforts to curb gangsterism, the killings are continuing.” (*9)

Sir, the cause of the problems in the WC are different to those in other parts of South
Africa, most notably those around the interconnected problems of gangs and drugs.
These are points which I have demonstrated that you are completely aware of, and I
feel that the citizens of the Western Cape would be better served if better plans were
made to address these than any by any attempt at a gun amnesty. I hope that you will
continue to address the real issues that are plaguing the Western Cape people with
consideration and enthusiasm.

Sincerely yours,

Richard (Gun Owners of SA Spokesperson)


(*) http://www.news24.com/southafrica/news/ ... obile=true

http://www.news24.com/southafrica/news/ ... obile=true

http://ewn.co.za/2015/08/24/WC-communit ... regulation

(*2) Thursday, 16 July 2015] 2637





(*3) http://ewn.co.za/2014/08/01/10-year--ol ... using-guns

(*4) http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/201 ... aking-guns

(*5) http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/ ... s-20150323

(*6) http://www.statssa.gov.za/publications/ ... tation.pdf

(*7) http://ewn.co.za/2015/08/23/Number-of-f ... -increases

(*8) http://ewn.co.za/2013/08/26/Gangs-using ... gs---Plato

(*9) http://ewn.co.za/2012/09/24/Plato-calls ... ting-gangs
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