Firearms are a causative factor in much violence-related morbidity and mortality, including suicide. Interventions focus on stricter gun control. In South Africa multisectoral collaboration is needed in this regard.
To determine the incidence of firearm-related deaths in the Transkei region and to understand the underlying causative factors.
A record review was undertaken of 10,860 medicolegal autopsies performed between 1993 and 2004 at Umtata General Hospital.
Between 1993 and 2004 10,860 autopsies were performed on patients who died as a result of trauma and other causes at Umtata General Hospital. The average number of gunshot related-deaths during this period was 48.4 per 100,000 of the population per year. The rate increased from 27/100,000 in 1993 to 42/100,000 in 2004. Firearm-related deaths accounted for 29% of all traumatic deaths, and males (82%) outnumbered females 4.6:1, although there is an increasing incidence among females. About 50% of these deaths were in the 21-40-year age group. Interpersonal violence, poverty, and use of drugs and alcohol were common underlying factors.
There is a high incidence of firearm-related deaths in Transkei. Stricter gun control is required.