Trends in Firearm-Related Deaths in the Transkei Region of South Africa

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Abstract

Background:

Firearms tends to be seen today as instrumental in injuries and deaths, including suicide. South Africa's gun law allows firearms to be licensed and legal, so in general they are not illegal weapons, even though many used in violence are illegal. This is a prime area in which multisectorial collaboration is needed in a country like South Africa.

Objective:

The purpose of this study is to determine the incidence of firearm-related deaths and to understand the underlying causative factors.

Method:

This is a record review of 10,860 medicolegal autopsies conducted between 1993 and 2004 at Umtata General Hospital.

Results:

Between 1993 and 2004, there were10,860 autopsies performed of those who died as a result of trauma and others in Umtata General Hospital. The average gunshot-related deaths during this period are 48.4 per 100,000 of the population per year. The rate has increased from 27 per 100,000 in 1993 to 42 per 100,000 in 2004. It was climbed to its peak to 67.8 per 100,000 in 2001. Firearm-related deaths account for 29% of all traumatic deaths. Males (82%) outnumber females 4.6:1 in fatalities due to firearms. There is an increasing trend in females. About 50% were in the 21- to 40-year age group. Interpersonal violence, poverty, and use of drugs and alcohol are common underlying factors.

Conclusion:

There is a high incidence of firearm-related deaths in Transkei, which is in support of stricter gun control.

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