A total of 545 illegal firearms had been handed over to the police by Thursday, just one day before the expiry of an amnesty granted by Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa for illegal firearms holders to surrender them.
Mnangagwa declared a 54-day amnesty starting Aug. 8 and ending Sept. 30, during which holders of unlicensed firearms and ammunition could surrender them to the police with no questions asked.
Police spokesperson Paul Nyathi on Thursday said that 538 firearms and 260 rounds of ammunition had been surrendered by the same day.
Police, however, said Friday that the figure had later risen to 545 when seven more firearms were surrendered.
Nyathi warned those who were still holding on to illegal firearms that the police would soon conduct searches on premises where illegal firearms are suspected to be hidden.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police therefore reminds the public that the amnesty is ending on Sept. 30, 2022. Police applaud members of the public who took heed of the amnesty to voluntarily surrender firearms and comply with the police verification exercise,” he said.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police urges those who are yet to surrender their firearms, to utilize the opportunity before criminal charges are preferred against anyone who will be found in possession of unlicensed 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.”
The amnesty was granted amid an increase in armed robberies, some of which had resulted in fatalities.
Apart from targeting households, the daring robbers are also into car-jacking and kidnapping and cash-in-transit heists, resulting in many people and institutions losing money, motor vehicles and other valuable items.
Nyathi in August said checks and records had shown that some companies had closed down yet their representatives were still holding on to firearms that had been issued to the companies.
“Some members of licensed gun clubs are no longer active while some farmers, hunters and individuals are no longer in the same position that they were when they applied for firearm licenses,” he said. “On the other hand, relatives of late firearm license holders are still holding on to firearms with some of them being used to commit various crimes which include armed robberies.”
The police had also observed that some licensed firearm holders were no longer renewing their firearms certificates or even notifying authorities about changes in residential or business addresses to enable constant checks to be made by the police on the status of the firearms.
In some cases, individuals and institutions were improperly securing their firearms, resulting in some firearms falling into wrong hands and being used to commit robberies and murders, while some licensed gun dealers and clubs were holding on to unclaimed firearms which had been surrendered to them for safe-keeping, according to the spokesperson. Enditem