In South Africa, women arm themselves against violence

Photo of author

By admin

They fire live ammunition: for the dozens of women in this shooting center near Johannesburg, taming a gun is a way to protect themselves in a country where a woman is murdered every three hours.

For the first time in his life, Ntando Mthembu, 33, is holding a gun in his hands. Ten bullets to the cardboard target, no hesitation.

In South Africa, women arm themselves against violence

In November, she lost her cousin. Alone in a house for a few hours, the latter was raped by several men. Then killed. “Before that happens to me, I want to be ready,” said Ntando.

In South Africa, one of the most violent countries in the world, murders are on the rise. In 2019-2020, 21,325 people (+ 1.4%) were killed, according to the latest annual police report.

And the rate of femicides is five times higher than the world average.

“Women are targets in this country,” says Matsie Noge, another participant in the women’s guns training course organized by the Association of Gun Owners in South Africa (GOSA).

In South Africa, women arm themselves against violence

In South Africa, women arm themselves against violence

In South Africa, women arm themselves against violence

This mother came with her 24 year old daughter. “I should have brought her much earlier, when she was 15. The earlier the better.”

“These training courses are intended in particular for young black women, who are statistically the most targeted by crime”, explains Themba Kubheka, from the GOSA association and creator of these courses. “Every woman here knows a woman who has been raped, robbed, beaten. Each has a story about the violence in this country. ”

“Instead of calling for help, they must be able to defend themselves,” said Mr. Kubheka, recalling that in the event of an assault, the police take an average of 15 minutes to arrive.

“To shut up”

About 4.5 million guns are legally circulating in South Africa. Almost as much on the black market, according to the NGO Gun Free SA, a South African association which campaigns for a restriction on the carrying of weapons.

Every day, 27 weapons are stolen and come to feed the illegal market, according to the NGO which lists 23 daily deaths by firearms.

“A weapon is hardly ever used in self-defense, but it increases the risk for the person and his family, and helps criminals to arm themselves”, underlines the organization.

After three bullets, Nthabiseng Phele puts the gun back on the table at the shooting range. Her hands are shaking, she is sweating. The 32-year-old is visibly shaken.

In South Africa, women arm themselves against violence

“It reminds me of when I would have liked to have a gun,” she hisses.

Nine years ago she was raped. Several times in his room. The neighbor of the house she occupied with her parents, in a suburb of Johannesburg, entered through the window.

She did not file a complaint, received no support. Only the dogs would start barking when she cried. His parents criticized him for bringing shame on the family.

When she confided in a friend, he raped her in turn. “It teaches you to shut up,” she said.

In South Africa, 110 rape complaints are registered by the police every day. In 2019, sexual assault increased by 1.7% (+873 cases) compared to the previous year, or 53,293 cases in total.

Comparing the level of violence inflicted on South African women “to that of a country at war”, President Cyril Ramaphosa made the fight against this scourge a national cause at the end of 2019.

Today, Nthabiseng lives with her boyfriend. He knows his story. Together, they decided to install a safe in their home. So she could keep a gun there.

Leave a Comment