The availability of illicit firearms among civilians in Africa continues to contribute to an increase in armed violence, including gender-based violence, Minister of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security Albert Kawana has said.
Kawana at the launch of Namibia’s Amnesty Month on Wednesday said weapons fuel criminal violence such as armed robberies, inter-communal violence, insurgencies, and terrorism.
“I therefore appeal to all those who find themselves within the borders of Namibia, regardless of their residence status, to surrender the unlicensed firearms, armaments, or ammunition which are held in contravention of the law,” he said.
The amnesty period expires on 30 September 2023, after which the police will apprehend those who are in possession of unlicensed firearms, ammunition, or armaments.
“We will ensure that they are successfully prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned,” he said.
Also speaking at the launch was Major General Anne-Marie Nainda, the Namibian Police Force’s Deputy Inspector-General for Administration, who said although the enacted Arms and Ammunition Act of 1996 (Act No. 7 of 1996) provides for individuals and institutions to legally own firearms to protect life and property from criminals, it is unfortunate that some of these firearms fall into the wrong hands and are used to commit crimes.
Nainda said that from January 2021 to July 2023, a total of 109 murder cases, 322 attempted murder cases, and 1 017 armed robberies were recorded. Furthermore, a total of 66 cases of pointing of firearm at a person and 101 suicide cases were reported.
She further said 118 poaching cases were registered, and 156 firearms confiscated from suspects.
“These statistics paint a disturbing and unacceptable picture, hence the need to intensify the campaign on ‘Silencing the Guns in Africa’,” Nainda said.
The Assembly of Heads of State and Government designated September to be ‘Africa Amnesty Month’ in order to encourage the surrender and collection of unlawfully owned weapons and arms.