Amnesty for holders of unlicenced firearms
Trust Freddy-Herald Correspondent
Members of the public who are in possession of unregistered firearms and ammunition have been granted an amnesty by President Mnangagwa to voluntarily surrender them to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) by September 30 and face no criminal charge.
This comes as cases of abuse of firearms, often unregistered, have been on the rise, with unlicenced owners committing heinous crimes such as murder.
To combat the scourge, the President granted the amnesty in line with Article 12 of the SADC Protocol on the control of firearms, ammunition, and related materials.
In a statement, national police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said those holding firearms should surrender them at their nearest stations between August 8 and September 30 with no criminal charges against them.
“In this regard, the Zimbabwe Republic Police advises the public that in line with Article 12 of SADC Protocol on the control of firearms, ammunition and related materials, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Excellency Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa has granted an amnesty to all members of the public who are in possession of firearms and ammunition falling under the categories listed above to voluntarily surrender them to the Zimbabwe Republic Police from August 8 to September 30, 2022.
“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,” he said.
He said the police will conduct physical checks and verifications on all residential and business premises where illegal firearms are suspected to be.
Asst Comm Nyathi said checks and records 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companies have closed yet their representatives are still holding onto firearms, some members of licenced gun clubs are no longer active while some farmers, hunters and individuals are no longer in the same position that they were when they applied for firearm licences.
On the other hand, he said relatives of late firearm licence holders are still holding on to firearms with some of them being used to commit various crimes, which include armed robbery.
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 murder cases, while some licenced gun dealers and clubs are holding on to unclaimed firearms which were surrendered to them for safekeeping.
The amnesty 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.
He said abuse of firearms by the registered firearm holders had resulted in injury and sometimes loss of life of innocent victims and also the destruction of property.
According to police, the most common types of abuse of firearms by registered firearm holders included knowingly and without lawful cause pointing a firearm at another person and negligently or recklessly discharging a firearm or causing or permitting a firearm to be discharged in or upon a public or private place.
Committing offences such as attempted murder, murder, armed robbery and poaching using registered or unregistered firearms and insecure firearms, were the other types of abuse.
Further observations were that holders of registered firearms had developed a habit of moving around with firearms unnecessarily without any satisfactory reason.
It is however also an offence to buy a firearm or ammunition without a firearm certificate.
Failure to renew a firearm certificate is also an offence and in the event that a registered holder passes on, relatives should surrender firearms to the nearest police station immediately for safekeeping pending legal disposal by the executor of the estate.
Members of the public were then urged to report any suspected firearms which are not legally licenced and probably being used to commit crime.