2008-02-27 : 'Weapons ban will leave women defenceless'

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2008-02-27 : 'Weapons ban will leave women defenceless'

Postby GOSA » Mon, 2008-04-14 07:09

'Weapons ban will leave women defenceless'
Gill Gifford
February 27 2008 at 10:31AM

The proposed banning of an array of dangerous weapons by the Safety and Security Ministry could be to the detriment of women.

Sanette Smit, self-defence expert and author of The South African Woman's Guide to Self-Defence, on Tuesday saw the proposal as a negative development for women.

"This kind of thing saddens me because women are already at a physical disadvantage when it comes to protecting themselves, and this will only make it more difficult for them.

"It will be to the detriment of women in general and affect the elderly and differently-abled, who all need something to protect themselves."

'How does the government plan to police this?'

Smit conceded that women did not generally carry knives and ninja stars but rather favoured pepper sprays, zappers and stun guns.

While these were not listed in the document, it is understood they too will be banned.

Morné Swanepoel, a "reality-based personal protection" expert, is of the opinion that tightening up weapons laws will do little or nothing to disarm criminals.

He said outlawing weapons placed "law-abiding citizens under attack".

"Yes it's good not to allow knives to be sold at flea markets. But there is no control over our borders and there is an unacceptably high number of unaccounted weapons and guns stolen from the cops every year. How does the government plan to police this?"

Swanepoel didn't see things getting better with the envisaged changes, only worse.

"While I fully agree with the principle of weapons control, I don't think we have the capacity to enforce it."

He and Smit were reacting to a notice for public comment in this month's Government Gazette, which proposes that virtually any article seen as a potential weapon be outlawed.

Should the proposed notice - drafted for consultation purposes - be approved in its current form, it would become an offence to carry a "dangerous weapon" in public.

"Objects which are in the opinion of the minister dangerous weapons" are defined in the document and include catapults, pangas, cattle prods, batons, ninja stars, BB and airsoft guns, bows and arrows, spearguns, blowpipes and darts, slingshots, swords, bayonets, spears, daggers, knuckle knives, throwing blades, tonfas, any knife with a blade longer than 10cm, and "any other article made or modified to cause physical harm".

The notice prohibits the carrying of a dangerous weapon in public or in a place to which the public has access.

There are some exemptions. For example, toy guns and weapons in a museum or gallery, used in theatrical performances or lawful employment, sport, recreation or entertainment and for collection.

Director Selby Bokaba, spokesperson for SAPS Legal Services, said the prohibitions in the notice amounted to "basically anything that's not a firearm but could cause some kind of harm".

The banning of zappers, stun guns and pepper sprays was envisaged.

The public has six weeks to comment on the draft.

This article was originally published on page 10 of The Star on February 27, 2008
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