Guns out of Africa

Firearms are banned from South African stadiums for the duration of the World Cup. Emily Dugan reports on a growing campaign to extend the ban indefinitely

Sunday 23 May 2010 00:00
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Premier League footballers have launched a campaign to banish guns from South Africa during the World Cup – and for the future.

For the first time in the country's history, personal firearms will be banned from stadiums during the tournament. But, when the contest finishes on 11 July, guns will once again be allowed in all public places.

Every year in South Africa, some 10,000 people are killed with guns. Those who have fallen victim to the country's lax gun laws are disappointed that measures to take guns off the streets will be only temporary.

Now, players including the Manchester City and Argentina striker Carlos Tevez and the Ivory Coast's Sol Bamba are backing a campaign led by the International Action Network on Small Arms (Iansa) to extend the gun ban beyond the World Cup.

As part of the campaign, the British fashion designer Katharine Hamnett has designed a T-shirt carrying the slogan "Don't Shoot: Gun-Free World Cup" – which The IoS is giving away to 10 competition winners this week.

"Guns have no place in sport, or in society," Tevez said. "And if it's possible to have a gun-free World Cup, why stop there? When I was growing up in Buenos Aires, I often heard gunshots at night, and I had to choose between following my dream, football, or falling into a life of crime. Hopefully, the World Cup will inspire kids in South Africa in the same way."

Thembani Dyle, 35, was shot three times in a car-jacking outside Cape Town in 2003. He can't see why guns can't be banned altogether. "It took months of rehab to get better, and I was one of the lucky ones. I'm happy they're banning guns in the stadiums, but I'd rather they banned guns altogether. For the safety of visitors, they should at least have a total moratorium on guns throughout South Africa while the World Cup is on. And why not make it safer for the future, too?"

Samuel Modiba, proprietor of Alexandra Ladies FC, based in Alexandra township, Johannesburg, said: "It's important that guns aren't just banned from football stadiums for the duration of the World Cup. We should work to take them off the streets entirely. It is important that visitors to the tournament are safe, but a more fitting legacy would be safer communities for South Africans. That's why we support the ongoing gun amnesty and urge everyone to hand in their weapons to the police before the deadline."

Earlier this year, Togo's football team bus came under machine-gun fire on the way to the Africa Cup of Nations. Sol Bamba, who played for the Ivory Coast in the tournament, said: "We should all work together to make sure the violence that threatened the Africa Cup of Nations is never repeated. Guns and football don't go together, and the World Cup is an opportunity for everyone to celebrate what is great about Africa."

Iansa's Africa co-ordinator, Joseph Dube, said: "The fact that guns are banned from stadiums for the World Cup is great news. But we really want to see guns banned across the board."

Win a World Cup T-shirt

We have 10 limited-edition "Don't Shoot: Gun-Free World Cup" T-shirts to give away designed by Katharine Hamnett for Iansa. To win one, answer the following question: Which pop group took their name from the team once captained by the South African football legend Lucas Radebe?

All entries to be sent to: sundayletters@independent.co.uk by Thursday 27 May. Specify whether you would prefer S, M or L. For terms and conditions see independent.co.uk/legal

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