Originally published in Christian Today
A campaign by the South Africa Football Association (Safa) to get rid of illegal guns from the country in the wake of the murder of national captain Senzo Meyiwa is being backed by the Archbishop of Cape Town.
Meyiwa was gunned down at the home of a friend last month in a botched robbery. A suspect, Zanokuhle Mbatha, 25, was arrested and charged after witnesses picked him out in an identity parade.
The Senzo Meyiwa Gun Campaign (SMGC) waslaunched by Safa president Danny Jordaan, who said: “Our national captain’s death brought matters to a head. This campaign is not just about Senzo, it gives a voice and face to the 17 others who were shot and killed on the same day as Senzo.
“This campaign is not about interfering with licensed firearms but to get rid of the illegal guns and unlicensed weapons that are destroying our country. We have to make a start now and rid our country of this evil.”
The Archbishop, Rt Rev Thabo Makgoba, serves on the SMGC committee with other high-profile activists. He said in a statement: “I support Danny Jordaan fully in his call for a drive against illegal weapons. We need a major intervention to curb violence and the use of guns in South Africa.
“We should beat our swords into ploughshares and our spears into pruning-hooks by collecting illegal guns across the country, melting them down in furnaces, and turning them into objects which stand for peace.”
Jordaan added: “We want all the weapons to be confiscated and melted down so that they can be used in the erection of a statue of Senzo, which we will build at the entrance of our headquarters in Joburg Safa House.”
Also part of the initiative is the Guns Free South Africa campaign, whose spokeswoman Adele Kirsten called for an amnesty for the possession of illegal weapons. “We want government to give every person who has an illegal firearm an amnesty when they hand in their weapons,” she said. “In other words, they should not be finger printed or identified, simply hand in the weapons. We fully back Safa’s initiative.”
Highlighted by the Oscar Pistorius case which saw the athlete found guilty of culpable homicide for shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through the door of a lavatory, South Africa has one of the highest gun murder rates in the world. More than 8,000 people are killed by shooting every year out of a total of 17,000 murders. By contrast, in 2013 England and Wales, which have about the same population, recorded 500 murders from all causes. Last year there were nearly 20,000 robberies recorded in homes.