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Adèle Kirsten has been a non-violent, social justice activist for almost 40 years in South Africa, and is the Director of Gun Free South Africa, of which she was a founding member. 

Adèle became active in the anti-apartheid movement in the late 70’s as a result of her opposition to the injustices of the apartheid system, the growing militarisation of the society, and her support for those who refused to serve in the apartheid army. 

As a founding member of Gun Free South Africa (GFSA), Adèle was responsible for helping build the organisation into a national NGO, which together with the Gun Control Alliance, played an important role in advocating for stricter gun laws in South Africa. In November 2000, the Firearms Control Act was passed. Adèle was named the South African Woman of the Year in 2000 under the media and communications category.

In 2008, Adèle published a book, A Nation without Guns? The Story of Gun Free South Africa.
She has been on several advisory boards, notably the UK Department for International Development Armed Violence and Poverty Initiative as well as the OECD Advisory panel on armed violence reduction. Adèle joined the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation as its Director in 2008 until end 2010. 

Adèle Kirsten speaks with Julia Wiklander about gun violence, long-term activism and about solidarity and hope. 

In this episode, Adèle shares how she got involved in the anti-apartheid movement as a student in South Africa. We talk about the linkages with the student movement today. She shares several stories from her work with Gun Free South Africa. One is the current – almost unbelievable – class-action lawsuit taking place in South Africa. The case includes over 2,000 guns that were stolen from police stores by a senior police officer, Colonel Christiaan Prinsloo, and distributed to criminals between 2007 and 2015. These guns have been linked to more than 1000 murders in the Western Cape and 187 children between the ages of one and 17 years old were shot with Prinsloo Guns, 67 of whom were killed.

“If we aren’t thinking structurally and systemically then it’s charity. And charity has its place. But if you’re an activist, you’re about making change… and you have to find it within you to see the links between the small change, the mobilization and the structural systemic change.”

– Adèle Kirsten on the Hey Changemaker! Podcast. 

Learn more about what’s talked about in the podcast

The Hey Changemaker! Podcast is hope and solidarity delivered to you through personal conversations with changemakers. Listen to more episodes, subscribe, nominate a guest and leave a voice message for the podcast here.


The Conversation

One Response

  1. Were you perhaps dropped on your head by accident and nobody confessed afterwards? Do you really reside in South Africa?

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