South Africans generally have a poor attitude towards self-defence. Those who can afford to prefer to outsource it to security companies, and place a heavy reliance on passive defences such as high walls, security gates, and alarm systems.
All of those things have their place, but none of them replace the individual’s ability (and responsibility) to actively defend themselves when their person comes under attack.
This latter part of the puzzle is what appears to be sorely missing from the South African public mindset. We have an inability and unwillingness to take active responsibility for our personal safety.
This failure was again demonstrated when a well-known environmentalist was attacked on a hiking trail outside Stellenbosch by a group of muggers over the weekend. That hiking trails and bike tracks around the Cape are a favourite haunt for criminal scumbags is sadly no secret. The local papers and social media networks are filled with examples of people getting attacked, and often seriously injured, by these violent dregs of society as they ply their criminal trade.
It makes perfect sense, considering that these trails are usually in nature reserves or other isolated areas, far away from help and infrequently patrolled by the police (if at all). Hikers and mountain bikers will also have some sort of valuables on them, and may travel in small enough groups that they can be easily targeted and robbed without excessive risk facing the criminal.
This information aside, the person in question and a student from the University of Stellenbosch were confronted by three men who attacked them with sticks and stones (doing some damage in the process) before fleeing with their victims’ valuables.
I am not going to criticise them for being victims of an unwarranted and violent attack. What I am going to criticise is the following utterances by the victim:
“To have a gun is just another sought after item that can be stolen. You’ll probably have it in your pocket, which is of no use if someone were to attack you.” His advice was to rather carry pepper spray.
I am confounded as to why pepper spray is deemed to be more effective during a life-or-death struggle than a firearm. I have seen how little effect OC spray can have on a determined attacker, especially if they are under the influence of a substance, and can unequivocally state that if you are relying on OC spray (even the premium brands) to be 100% effective at stopping your attacker…you are probably going to wind-up dead somewhere.
What is also crystal clear is that the gentleman in question is not even remotely familiar with how a firearm should be carried, how one can retain control and possession of your firearm during a struggle, and how effective a properly concealed and carried handgun can be at stopping multiple deadly threats at close quarters when wielded by a trained and competent citizen.
Perhaps the firearm would have made zero difference in this gentleman’s particular case: through his commentary he appears resigned to the myth that any form of resistance is futile, and that passive compliance with your attacker’s wishes is the best policy for survival…despite the numerous examples that it clearly is not.
Your brain is your primary weapon system. It is where your defensive capabilities begin and end, with everything in between merely enhancing that ability.
OC spray wouldn’t make a difference if you do not have the right mindset to use it effectively. No defensive tool would work under such circumstances. Not even a tank.