By: Justicia Shipena
Head of the Namibian police firearms control division, deputy commissioner Josia Shikongo says the police will charge those unwilling to surrender illegal firearms and ammunition during the amnesty period.
Shikongo said this in an interview with The Villager newspaper on the Africa amnesty.
His comments follow after safety and security minister Albert Kawana this week launched the amnesty period and called on the public to surrender unwanted firearms between 1 to 30 September. Namibia will join other members of the African Union (AU) in commemorating amnesty month this September. In 2017, AU proclaimed September as the Africa amnesty month for the surrender and collection of illicit small arms and light weapons.
This is a call to advance the AU’s “Silence the Guns in Africa” by 2030 initiative.
“If we come to your house after the public tips us off that you have illegal firearms and you were not surrendering them, you can still be charged,” said Shikongo. According to him, surrendering illegal firearms and ammunition should be an act of voluntary surrender.
“The whole month is dedicated to surrendering unwanted, unlicensed firearms, weapons and any related materials.”
Last year, the police announced that those who surrendered firearms used in the commission of a crime would indeed be arrested and prosecuted.
When asked about this, Shikongo touched on the issues of immunity and prosecution, stating that the police relate to the arms and ammunition act of 1996.
“This act has a list of offences, so possessing an unlicensed firearm is an offence. When we do amnesty, we lift the enforcement of that offence. However, when they come in, these firearms still go through a process of forensics and investigations. If it is found that they were involved in any other offence, you have no immunity. That offence will be investigated, and it will take its cause, but you will be granted immunity on the offence of unlicensed firearm,” he explained.
Speaking on the amnesty campaign, he said the police have a vibrant program that will create awareness.
“It is through awareness that we bring success to the project. We have quite a vibrant program, we also involved our place band in doing the outreach, but we have printed some materials like pamphlets and posters that we will hang at police stations and firearm dealers nationwide. We will have farmers and public meetings and radio programs,” he adds.
Shikongo also thanked the public for responding well to last year’s campaign.
“We thank the community for responding very well to the campaign last year, and we are hoping that they will do the same again this year.”
Last year, 570 illegal firearms were surrendered to the police and 24 334 rounds of ammunition countrywide. Of the firearms, 123 were pistols, 97 shotguns, 22 revolvers, 327 rifles, and one was a machine gun.
The highest number of firearms and ammunition were surrendered in Omusati, where 135 firearms and 2 635 pieces of ammunition were handed over to the police.
Khomas region came in second with 111 firearms, and the lowest number was handed over in the Zambezi region, where only two firearms were surrendered.
Last year, Namibia undertook a process led by Kwana to ensure full implementation of the amnesty period of firearms and related materials.
“Therefore, Namibia will join other AU member states to commemorate African Amnesty Month in September 2022. Once again, the public is called upon to participate in this rare opportunity granted to them by the government to surrender all illicit and unwanted firearms and ammunition,” said Kwana in a press statement on Tuesday when he launched the amnesty period for the year.