CRIMINAL charges will be preferred against anyone found in possession of unlicensed firearms when a physical check to be conducted very soon on all residential and business premises where illegal firearms are suspected to be kept or hidden, commences.
Today is the last chance for those with firearms that are unlicenced or with expired licences to hand these in without any risk of criminal charges.
Police have stayed their hand while the amnesty granted by President Mnangagwa ran its course, but when that amnesty ends at midnight tonight, police can start their search.
So far 538 unregistered firearms have been surrendered to the police as some of the illegal holders of guns took advantage of the amnesty and just handed them over.
A total of 260 rounds of ammunition have also been surrendered.
The amnesty, which opened last month, ends this month-end, and from then on law enforcement agents will conduct physical checks and verifications of guns and ammunition in the country amid concerns of rising crimes being committed using dangerous weapons, many with expired licences or stolen because they were inadequately secured.
Under the amnesty, those in possession of unlicenced firearms and ammunition, or who have these with expired licences, can surrender them without any risk of legal charges or any further action.
In a statement yesterday, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi applauded members of the public who took advantage of the amnesty.
“The 2022 Presidential firearms amnesty on voluntary surrender of firearms and compliance with police verification exercise, which came into force on August 8, 2022, has seen 538 firearms and 260 rounds of ammunition being voluntarily surrendered to the police as at 29 September 2022.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police therefore reminds the public that the amnesty is ending on 30 September 2022. The ZRP applauds members of the public who took heed of the amnesty to voluntarily surrender firearms and comply with the police verification exercise,” he said.
Asst Comm Nyathi urged all those who have not surrendered their guns to do so at any nearest police station.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police urges those who are yet to surrender their firearms, to use the opportunity before criminal charges are preferred against anyone who will be found in possession of unlicenced firearms during the pending physical check exercise to be conducted by the police on all residential and business premises where illegal firearms are suspected to be kept or hidden.
“Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Republic Police implores all licensed firearm owners to visit local Police stations and update their records in compliance with the Firearms Act,” he said.
Police still suspect there are significant numbers of unlicensed weapons bought by businesses that have changed hands, some that were owned by people who belonged to gun clubs and have given up the sport, or were owned by dead relatives and never handed in to the police.