World

South African police destroy thousands of illegal firearms to reduce high crime rate.

  • Police officers show off bags of confiscated weapons prior to being smelted at a metal processing plant in Vereeniging, South Africa, Thursday, July 9, 2015, as the world marked International Firearms Destruction Day. Over 14,000 guns were destroyed in the exercise. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

    Police officers show off bags of confiscated weapons prior to being smelted at a metal processing plant in Vereeniging, South Africa, Thursday, July 9, 2015, as the world marked International Firearms Destruction Day. Over 14,000 guns were destroyed in the exercise. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)  (The Associated Press)

  • A giant crane prepares to lift bags of confiscated weapons prior to being smelted at a metal processing plant in Vereeniging, South Africa, Thursday, July 9, 2015, as the world marked International Firearms Destruction Day. Over 14,000 guns were destroyed in the exercise. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

    A giant crane prepares to lift bags of confiscated weapons prior to being smelted at a metal processing plant in Vereeniging, South Africa, Thursday, July 9, 2015, as the world marked International Firearms Destruction Day. Over 14,000 guns were destroyed in the exercise. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)  (The Associated Press)

  • Police, press and metal workers look on as bags of confiscated weapons are being prepared for smeltering at a metal processing plant in Vereeniging, South Africa, Thursday, July 9, 2015, as the world marked International Firearms Destruction Day. Over 14,000 guns were destroyed in the exercise. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

    Police, press and metal workers look on as bags of confiscated weapons are being prepared for smeltering at a metal processing plant in Vereeniging, South Africa, Thursday, July 9, 2015, as the world marked International Firearms Destruction Day. Over 14,000 guns were destroyed in the exercise. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)  (The Associated Press)

In a splash of burning embers, South African police destroyed more than 14,000 firearms to mark International Gun Destruction Day in the furnace of a steel manufacturing plant outside Johannesburg.

South Africa's National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega said Thursday more than 11,500 of the firearms that were melted down were illegal, most of them handguns.

Adele Kirsten, spokeswoman for the lobby group Gun Free South Africa said stricter laws since 2001 and the destruction of illegal firearms had halved the country's gun death rate and changed an apartheid-era culture of civilians carrying arms.

But lawyer and firearms lobbyist Martin Hood said his clients in the security industry had seen an increase in the acquisition of firearms because of South Africa's high crime rate and police ineffectiveness.