JOHANNESBURG—Tighter gun ownership laws are pushing South Africans to buy crossbows, spears, swords, knives and pepper sprays to protect themselves from violent crime.
“We’ve had to build an entirely new shop because the demand from people is so great,” Justin Willmers, owner of Durban Guns and Ammo, told Reuters. “It can be anything from a Zulu fighting spear, battle axes, swords, crossbows.”
New gun controls came into force last year under South Africa’s Firearms Control Act, but some weapons shop owners say high crime rates are pushing law abiding citizens to look for alternative means of defending themselves.
Despite official figures showing the murder rate falling 10 percent in the year to March 2004, South Africa’s Arms and Ammunition Dealers Association says individuals face a one in 60 chance of being the victim of a violent crime in any given year.