South African Family Practice

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Short report: Is unemployment a major reason for firearm attacks in rural South Africa?

GA Ogunbanjo, BO Sotade


In South Africa, firearms are increasingly used in interpersonal and factional violence. In a five year period (1987 – 1992), gunshot wounds of the torso increased by 300% in KwaZulu-Natal.1 During the same period, King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban recorded a mortality rate for firearm-related injuries of eight times that for stab wounds and “direct admissions” to the mortuary, three times as common in cases of gunshot wounds compared with stab wounds.2 In our descriptive study, all cases of firearm attacks seen at the Church of Scotland Hospital and the government mortuary at Tugela Ferry in KwaZulu-Natal between December 1998 and May 1999 were reviewed to find out the reasons for the attacks. All patients treated at the hospital for non-fatal firearm injuries were interviewed using a pre-tested questionnaire and records from the district surgeon and police were examined to identify all fatal firearm injuries.

Keywords: unemployment, firearm attacks, victims, South Africa

SA Fam Pract 2003;45(10):18-19

AJOL African Journals Online