Gun Violence, Disability and Recovery

Kyla Herrmannsen

In the wake of Oscar Pistorius shooting his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day in 2013, new-found international attention was directed towards the state of South Africa’s prisons. The question on people’s minds being: ‘how will Oscar fare in prison?’ Reports focused on overcrowding and gang violence, painting a dire picture.

Instead of focusing solely on Pistorius, Wits Justice Project’s senior journalist, Carolyn Raphaely wrote an insightful and in depth story looking at the disabled and what it is like to have a disability and be incarcerated. Raphaely found Ronnie Fakude, an awaiting trial detainee who is a paraplegic in nappies. While Pistorius was granted bail, Fakude has been in prison for more than two years on fraud charges – awaiting the completion of his trial.

Raphaely’s moving 2013 story of Fakude – whose paraplegic status is due to gun violence – garnered international attention and has since been published in a book entitled ‘Gun Violence, Disability and Recovery’. South African sales of the book, led by Gun Free South Africa, will go to the Ronnie Fakude Trust.

Keith Krause, Director of the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding, said of the book: “The costs of violence are far greater than the numbers of lives lost, or the dry calculations of economic losses. This volume helps focus attention on the less visible, but perhaps much greater psychological and social consequences of the deliberate harm humans inflict on each other.”

While the Surviving Gun Violence Project note there is no reliable data on the number of individuals living with a disability in South African prisons and, South Africa Police Service crime stats have been found to be largely unreliable, this comprehensive infographic gives a visual sense of the degree to which gun violence is prevalent in the United States of America.

The infographic reveals that half of the homicides in America involve handguns and that 1 in 400 Americans were assaulted last year, 21.77% of these assaults involving a gun.

Read more on Ronnie Fakude:

Denying paraplegic bail is ‘torture’

Paraplegics hellish ordeal in prison

Have you heard about Prisoner A?

In prison and disabled from gun violence

Handicapped and waiting for trial – the story of Prisoner X

Help for South Africa’s Prisoner A


About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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