Southern Times Writer
Windhoek – Namibia is implementing a one-month blanket amnesty to owners of illegal firearms and ammunition in a quest to rid its streets of crime.
Namibian Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security Minister Dr Albert Kawana said the Southern Africa country fully subscribed to the African Union agenda of “silencing the guns”.
As of 2017, according to GunPolicy.org, there were an estimated 195,990 unregistered firearms in a Namibia, which has a population of about 2.4 million people. There were 200,010 registered firearms, mostly in the hands of law enforcement agents, farmers, mine owners and private security firms.
It is the high number of unregistered weapons that has prompted the government to grant an amnesty.
“All people in Namibia, regardless of their residence status, are hereby called upon to surrender their unlicensed firearms, armaments, or ammunition held in contravention of the law. Any person who complies with this call will be exempted from prosecution, during the Amnesty Month, namely, 1st to 30 September 2021.
“Namibia must continue to be a beacon of peace, safety, and security. Therefore, the initiative is aimed at achieving this objective. It is our experience that in most cases, those who possess unlicensed firearms, armaments or ammunition have ill intentions of using them illegally. Now is their chance to benefit from the amnesty which takes effect from tomorrow 1st September until 30 September 2021,” Dr Kawana said.
The AU had set an ambitious target to Silence the Guns in Africa by 2020. While that fixed date was not met, countries have adopted a rolling target to quickly and progressively silence the guns by ending both wars and violent crime.
“It is against the aforementioned background that the Members States have made significant progress in addressing the root causes, triggers, and drivers of conflicts on the African Continent. It is also acknowledged with sadness that Africa still faces multiple and complex challenges, particularly the illicit circulation of weapons which are flaming conflict on the Continent and thereby causing untold suffering, especially among innocent civilians such as women and children,” Dr Kawana said.
“The Government of the Republic of Namibia remains committed to the full implementation of the vision and aspirations of the AU Agenda 2063. In this regard, it undertook a process led by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety, and Security to ensure its full implementation. It is for this reason that, Cabinet approved a declaration of Amnesty Month of September for the next two years.”
He said post the amnesty, the police would “show no mercy in apprehending those who are in possession of unlicensed firearms, armaments, or ammunition”.