Corruption in firearms industry makes us all a target

Fraudulent issuing of firearms proficiency certificates underscores the risk of a gun in the home as legal gun owners may not have the necessary knowledge and skills to responsibly own a firearm

As part of the #GunFreeValentine campaign; Gun Free South Africa and Sonke Gender Justice call for an immediate investigation into the firearms industry after the latest media exposé filmed the Secretary of the South African Professional Firearms Trainers Council selling a fraudulent firearms proficiency certificate to a journalist. 

Corruption in the firearms industry is not new; this latest exposé is not an isolated incident. It is further proof of the ongoing fraudulent practice across the firearms control management chain involving firearms training institutions, firearms dealers and senior police offices dating back to 2012. 

Mbuyiselo Botha from Sonke Gender Justice says that that the exposé demonstrates how easily illegal guns are acquired through legal means, ‘It highlights that to stop the movement of guns from the legal to illegal pool, you have to control legal stocks’.   

Claire Taylor from Gun Free South Africa notes that the exposé, ‘undermines the myth that gun violence is committed with guns that are illegally held. The #GunFreeValentine campaign is based on the reality that a legal gun is used in 75% of cases in which a woman is shot and killed. This exposé reveals another reality, that at least some, but possibly thousands of licensed guns are acquired illegally through fraud and corruption. This makes us all a target’.

Says Gun Free South Africa Board member, Ronald Menoe, ‘Whenever profit can be made, there is a risk of fraud and corruption.  Until those profiting from the firearms industry are removed from having any role in implementing the Firearms Control Act; this risk will always exist. As such, our call for government to fully investigate the firearms industry following this exposé includes an appeal to explore ways to separate profit from implementation’.  

The latest media exposé uncovering corruption in the firearms industry comes during the #GunFreeValentine campaign, which launched on 14 February to highlight the danger of a gun in the home, with a woman in South Africa being at more risk of being shot in her home with a legal gun owned by her partner than of being shot by a stranger.

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 Note to editors:

  • 22 February 2016: An SABC News exposé (SABC exposes the fraudulent sale of firearm proficiency certificates) reveals fraud by the Secretary of the South African Professional Firearm Trainers Council (SAPFTC, which, on 6 March 2015 was appointed by a SAPS directive as the body responsible for ensuring the quality of firearm proficiency certification).  Andre van Tonder, who runs Skopos Firearms Academy and Dealership is caught on camera selling a firearms proficiency certificate to a journalist without the necessary training in the Firearms Control Act and proficiency having been undertaken.  
  • Statistics on intimate femicide (the killing of a woman by her intimate partner) are drawn from Abrahams N. et al. 2013. Intimate Partner Femicide in South Africa in 1999 and 2009. PLoS Med 10(4): e1001412.doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001412.