Azapo defends leader's gun possession

It is credible that Azanian People’s Organisation’s (Azapo) president Mosibudi Mangena is too busy to hand over his gun, despite leading a campaign against guns, said Azapo on Friday.


“As a president of the party and a minister of science and technology—apart from his role as a family man—with such [a] busy schedule—not having had time to hand over his gun as yet is not [an] inconceivable and unreasonable excuse,” said Azapo Gauteng political education secretary Mpumelelo Toyise.


“In fact, his honesty and being forthright with the public, instead of lying as many politicians do in our country, must be applauded as one of many characters we had seen in him as a leader of note in our country,” said Toyise.


On Wednesday, the South African Press Association (Sapa) reported that four months after launching the Azapo no-guns campaign, Mangena still possessed his own firearm.


He said he still owned a pistol he had had since 1995 for protection “as a political person running around all over the country”.


Mangena said he had not had time to go to a police station to hand it over, but intended to do so before the end of the year.


On Friday, Azapo said Mangena’s ownership of a gun should not “undervalue” the “inherent significance” of the party’s campaign to ban civilian gun ownership.

Toyise said it was actually the responsibility of the state to get people to hand over their guns.


“As part of its responsibility, the state should clean our country of all guns in private hands.


“It is only in that context that citizens would be required to assist such a clean-up programme by surrendering their own firearms,” said Toyise.


He said Azapo was “alive to the concerns” of “average citizens” about their safety.


This was why Azapo had “deliberately” not advanced a programme for civilians to surrender their firearms.

“The state fails in discharging its responsibility to create a safe and crime-free environment,” said Toyise.


At the April 21 launch of Azapo’s anti-gun campaign at Kagiso on the West Rand, Mangena said: “An immediate and important step we can take as a country to reduce levels of serious and violent crime is to remove all guns from civilians”.


“Only the police and the army should be allowed to carry guns.”


Mangena told Sapa on Wednesday that his gun was locked away safely.—Sapa


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