POLICE spokesperson Rae Hamoonga says the Zambia Police Service will not continue pleading with people who are illegally owning firearms but will simply work on ensuring that they are retrieved.
And Hamoonga says police will not hesitate to arrest individuals owning homemade guns because they are not authorised.
Speaking when he featured on Parliament TV, Tuesday, Hamoonga observed that the most common offence which those who own illegal firearms commit is failure to secure a firearm.
“Actually, we want to remind the owners of these firearms that the most common offence that we have noticed from people who own firearms is the failure to secure the firearm. That is one of the offences that a lot of people that own firearms find themselves in trouble with. People think when you own a firearm you can just keep it in the house and then go. We have actually seen a tendency of people borrowing firearms. There is a procedure that you have to follow for you to actually lend a firearm. That person to start with must also own a firearm. People need to know that when you own a firearm, that is a license to you. You can also go through a process we call temporal ownership,” he said.
“The issue of disarmament is a concern to us. Of course, we have put up a campaign by doing an amnesty so that people could respond. We do not want when we start seizing the firearms then people start crying saying we have been victimised. This thing has been given and we had a very good time for people to surrender illegally owned firearms. Going forward, we are not going to continue pleading with people owning these firearms illegally. We have put it very clear and it is now time for us to do our work. We have been talking about it so now enough is enough. We are going to ensure that illegally owned firearms are retrieved.”
Hamoonga said people needed to be careful with the way they used firearms.
“You cannot own any kind of firearm. You cannot own an AK-47 and all military firearms. There are firearms used by the police like an AK-47 but you can own pistols like we do as well as Zambia police. The guide is the firearms dealer where you go to purchase the firearm. In fact if somebody is talking to you and he is threatening you with a firearm, please report them to the police. That is intimidation and in fact going armed in public is an offence. It is only us the police [who are] allowed to go with firearms in public because we are on duty. However, we need to be careful with the way we use these firearms. If someone owns one and is pointing at someone anyhow, that is threatening violence,” he said.
“If you leave a firearm in the house, it has to be as secure that nobody has access to it. If someone accesses it, that constitutes failing to secure and you can be arrested for that. Regarding homemade guns, they are not allowed. This is as good as importing a firearm. It is not authorised. So these homemade guns, we are actually requesting you [to] surrender them. If you have a homemade gun, definitely, if we find it with you, you are going to be arrested because now there is no amnesty. For somebody to acquire a firearm, they must be at least 21 years of age and above. He must be physically fit and of a proper sound mind. Somebody must be mentally fit and stable. He must not have [mood] swings but a proper mind. So in the question of possessing a firearm, you just do not get up and buy. You have to go through a process.”
Hamoonga said police would continue pursuing individuals owning firearms illegally because the amnesty period had ended.
“A Minister may declare a period of time where someone who owns a gun illegally can surrender it and we will reward you with a fee of K1,000. So that is the campaign we did on firearm amnesty. Last year, the firearm amnesty did not go very well and did not go as expected despite all the efforts. Of course, people want to continue with criminal activities but we will continue pursuing them. We cannot allow a situation where Zambians want to live in peace and certain people want to bring problems. So we gave them an opportunity but they did not heed to it. So we are going for them and will get them. As long as they are in Zambia, we have the mandate to ensure that there is law and order in public. The Firearms Act gives guidance on how you are supposed to keep it. Some people think when they acquire a firearm, you can do anything,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hamoonga advised citizens not to be duped by social media adverts on police recruitment.
“Please do not be duped by people that are circulating adverts on social media saying pay K120 and we are going to have your application processed. It is not done like that. When time for recruitment comes, we are going to give proper and clear directives where you are supposed to take your applications countrywide. Actually, we place adverts in print and electronic [media] because it is no secret. So do not be duped by these fake adverts running around asking for money. We do not ask for money when we are doing police recruitment,” said Hamoonga.