POLICE in Zimbabwe have expressed concern over the increase of firearm smugglers at a time  when President Emmerson Mnangagwa granted  an amnesty to people holding on to illegal firearms and ammunition to surrender them.

National police spokesperson assistant commissioner Paul Nyathi told the Daily News yesterday that despite an amnesty declaration it was worrying that there were criminals who were defying the order.

“Of late we have been arresting firearm smugglers and this is a cause of concern as it means they are disregarding the call to desist from owning unregistered firearms. 

On 19 August 2022, members of the police deployed on the operation, No to cross border crimes, in Beitbridge arrested a foreign national, Mathabi Tshililo, 32, at Limpopo Old Bridge, Beitbridge Border Post, for smuggling a firearm and dangerous weapons into the country.

“The suspect was found in possession of a Pietro Beretta Pistol, 50 x 9mm live rounds, two spears, an axe, a knobkerrie, a button stick, a pair of handcuffs, a pepper spray and an electric shocker,” said Nyathi.

He said over the weekend, police in Harare arrested Precious Maunganidze, 39, at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport while trying to smuggle ammunition to South Africa.

“The ammunition was stashed inside a plastic bottle with oil, a razor blade and a magnet. The suspect claimed that she was given the ammunition by a prophet based in South Africa as a lucky charm. Investigations are in progress.”

Nyathi said in terms of the Firearms Act, the role of the police is to ensure that all firearms in the country were licensed.

“Any individual, institution in possession of firearms   should make sure that their firearms are licensed in terms of the law.

“The public should be warned that anyone found in possession of the firearm without the license is committing an offence and anyone who smuggles a weapon in or outside the country is also committing an offence.”

Meanwhile, the police said 130 unlicenced firearms had been surrendered by August 18 under the operation “Firearms Amnesty ‘’.

 “Twelve firearms were surrendered to the police countrywide on the operation “Firearms Amnesty,” bringing the cumulative number of surrendered firearms to 130,” Nyathi said.

This comes as authorities have issued a temporary amnesty to all people who possess illegal firearms, as the government bids to stem soaring cases of violent crime involving guns in the country.

During the amnesty period, no questions will be asked to those who surrender to authorities their illegal firearms and ammunition.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police advises the public that in line with Article 12 of the Sadc Protocol on the control of firearms, ammunition and related materials …

“President Mnangagwa has granted an amnesty to all members of the public who are in possession of firearms and ammunition … to voluntarily surrender them to the Zimbabwe Republic Police from 8th August to 30th September 2022.

“The police have noted that some members of the public are holding onto, or are in possession of firearms and ammunition, yet some are not licensed or authorised to be in possession of such weapons.

“This has led to the current abuse of firearms in the country in clear violation of the provisions of the Firearms Act, Chapter 10:09,” Nyathi said.

“Individuals and institutions are also improperly securing firearms, resulting in some falling into wrong hands and being used to commit robbery and murder cases. – Daily News