Firearm associations and dealers have reported a significant increase in gun licence and gun competency applications being made by women in South Africa.
Bianca Bell, owner of Kalahari Arms, a firearm dealer based in Randburg, Johannesburg, says her store has seen firearm purchases by women triple over the past few years.
Read: Crime and the ‘horrendous toll’ it’s taking on South Africans
“There has been an astronomical increase in sales to women of colour,” she notes.
According to Girls on Fire campaign organiser Lynette Oxley, women are not taking up firearm training just for empowerment reasons but also to participate in traditionally male-dominated sports shooting tournaments.
She says the campaign has seen women from all walks of life attend competency training workshops in the hope of possessing a firearm.
“Small calibre firearms have been a popular choice for the ladies at Girls on Fire,” adds Oxley.
Damian Enslin, chair of the South African Gunowners’ Association, says surges in firearm licence and competency applications are seen when high crime statistics are released. “More recently of significance is that more women are also buying firearms.”
The South African Police Service (SAPS) confirmed an increase in firearm applications during its August 2021 presentation to a parliamentary portfolio committee.
The Central Firearms Register (CFR) reported that around 143 000 new firearm licences were recorded in 2020/21 while 107 000 applications were made in 2019/20.
The CFR says it processed 188 296 competency certifications during the 2020/21 period.
Read: Violence against women and children in SA a ‘second pandemic’
Crime against women and children
Speaking on the release of the latest crimes stats on 3 June, Minister of Police Bheki Cele noted that the first quarter of 2022 was especially brutal for women and children.
“Murder, attempted murder and assault GBH [grievous bodily harm] all recorded double-digit increases. Murder and assault GBH of children under the age of 17 years, also recorded sharp increases. However, the number of attempted murder cases of children has declined by 6.8%,” he said.
“Out of 6 083 people killed in the country, 898 of them were women and 306 were children under the age of 17 years.
“Alarmingly, the murder of children recorded a 37.2% increase in the period of reporting,” said Cele.
Oxley points out that a notable number of women who have joined the Girls on Fire campaign disclosed that they were previously victims of gender-based violence and abusive relationships.
“Most ladies want to have a self-defence firearm. It’s empowering and it changes the way that you feel about yourself,” she adds.
Nondumiso Lehutso is a Moneyweb intern.