Ministry of Homeland Security has instituted an audit into firearms and ammunition, with a call for persons holding the weapons to present them to police for verification.
In a statement dated July 15 2020, Homeland Security Minister Richard Chimwendo Banda said the exercise, which runs from July 20 to August 11, seeks to ensure that all legal firearms are verified and are in the database of the Registrar of Firearms.
He said the exercise will also help prevent crime and violence perpetrated by use of firearms and address the fundamental causes of crime to effectively protect communities and ensure people are safe.
Said Banda: “All persons presenting themselves for the exercise must carry with them their firearms/ammunition and the attendant permits/licences or their authority for inspection by the Registrar. They should also carry with them their National Identity Card or other identification document.
“All holders of firearms are encouraged to attend the exercise as any possession of a firearm not verified will be deemed illegal possession and subject to prosecution.”
According to the statement, persons to present themselves to various police formations from July 20 are those in possession of permits or licences whether they have expired or not and persons who inherited firearms from deceased relatives.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera in an interview said the exercice will keep communities safe.
He said: “It will help lessen crime and violence that is perpetrated by the use of firearms as well as address fundamental causes of crime to effectively protect communities.”
In a separate interview, Ministry of Homeland Security Principal SecretaryHarry Kunjewe said this is a normal operation which the police can determine when to conduct.
On his part, security studies lecturer at Mzuzu University Eugenio Njoloma said the exercise could be a result of increased possession of illegal firearms by people.
He said: “There could be evidence that so many people are in possession of firearms illegally. They could have acquired them through political allies but could be reluctant to have them registered if they are government property.
“So this is to sanitise gun ownership. I think it is a good exercise because when guns are owned illegally, it is easy for the holders to perpetrate crimes since they cannot be held to account by any authority.”
Section 12 (1) of the Firearms Act (1967) stipulates that no person may, otherwise than in accordance with the conditions of a firearm permit or an annual licence, carry or have in his possession or under his control any firearm or ammunition.
Under Section 16 (2) a person who carries or has in his possession a prohibited weapon shall be guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.