29 April 2009
Johannesburg - At least five pedestrians have been injured over the past four weeks, by unknown assailants who shot at them with paintball guns before speeding away from the scene.
Such incidents have been reported in Krugersdorp, Pretoria and Benoni, among others.
Nick Dollman, spokesperson for Netcare 911, has warned people to be careful and to try to help in identifying and catching the perpetrators.
Recently, after one of these incidents in Kenmare, Krugersdorp, paramedics had to treat two women.
Woman hurt on leg
"Apparently they were walking when a car slowly drove past them, from where unknown assailants started shooting at them with paintball guns. One woman was hit on her left leg - the wound looked similar to that made by a paintball."
Dollman said the woman was shocked, but calmed down once she realised she hadn't been shot with a real firearm.
In Pretoria, a pedestrian was shot with a paintball, and two people were also shot at the Beyers Naudé settlement in Honeydew on the West Rand.
According to Paul Murphy, manager of Blades and Bows, paintball guns can be quite dangerous.
"For that reason, people who abuse them in this way should be properly punished. They're spoiling it for those law-abiding people who buy them for sport or self-defence."
Not a gun
Murphy doesn't use the word "gun", since the law doesn't classify these "markers" as deadly weapons. Yet paintballs travel at very high speeds - up to 97m/s - when they are fired. The face and eyes are especially vulnerable.
For this reason, protective clothing and helmets are worn during paintball shooting games. Owning paintball "markers" as a form of self-defence is also becoming increasingly popular, Murphy said.
"You don't need any licenses or training to own a paintball marker, and the salesperson should be able to inform you about its use and maintenance. It is only illegal if you use it for purposes other than self-defence."
According to Murphy, a paintball marker is a better form of self-defence than a stun gun or pepper spray, because you can defend yourself over a distance of 20-25m.
Pepper, plastic or rubber balls can be used as ammunition. The pepper balls contain powdered pepper which explodes on impact.
[ Story by Daniëlla du Plooy and Celinda Groenewald, Beeld]
Also view "Pedestrian Safety"