144 firearms surrendered so far Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi

Crime Reporter

At least 144 unregistered firearms have now been voluntarily surrendered to the police following the recent amnesty granted by President Mnangagwa.

Under the amnesty, those in possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, or who have these with expired licences, would surrender them without questions being asked.

If they voluntarily surrendered them to the Zimbabwe Republic Police by the end of next month they will face no charges.

The call came after cases of abuse of firearms, often unregistered, have been on the rise, with unlicensed weapons being used in robbery and murder.

The police suspect there are significant numbers of unlicensed weapons which were bought by businesses that have changed hands, that were owned by people who belonged to gun clubs and have given up the sport, or have been found among the effects of a dead relative.

Not only are these weapons unlicensed, but in many cases without an active owner are more likely to be stolen or misused.

The President granted the amnesty in line with Article 12 of the SADC Protocol on the control of firearms, ammunition, and related materials.

Police recently said those holding firearms should surrender them at their nearest stations between August 8 and September 30 and they will face no criminal charges while doing so.

“The firearms should be surrendered to any nearest police station with the volunteer being given an official safe custody receipt to confirm that the weapon has indeed been taken over by the police officer at the local police station.

“No criminal charges will be preferred to members of the public during this period as long as one complies with the provisions of the Presidential Amnesty,” Asst Comm Nyathi said.

But police will now be conducting physical checks and verifications on all residential and business premises where they suspect there could be illegal firearms.

Checks and records, said Asst Comm Nyathi, have revealed that some companies have closed, yet their representatives are still holding onto firearms, some members of licenced gun clubs are no longer active while some farmers, hunters and individuals are no longer in the same position that they were, when they applied for firearm licences.

He said it was disheartening that some licenced firearm holders are no longer renewing their firearm certificates or even notifying the authorities about the change in residential or business addresses to enable constant checks to be made by the police on the status of the firearms.

He added that some individuals and institutions were improperly securing firearms resulting in some falling into wrong hands and being used to commit robbery and murders, while some licenced gun dealers and clubs are holding on to unclaimed firearms which were surrendered to them for safekeeping.

The amnesty even covers anyone who is in possession of any weapon which was smuggled or illegally brought into the country.

Police recently said that more registered firearm owners are abusing their guns countrywide and those who use their legal firearms for anything but what their licences state risk revocation of their licences and face arrest.

Asst Comm Nyathi said members of the public who possess firearms should comply with the law and stop carrying or displaying such firearms in public gatherings, shopping centres, service stations, and other public places.

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