Despite assurances by police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga and safety and security minister Albert Kawana that no one will be prosecuted for handing in unlicensed firearms and ammunition, an about-turn saw police announcing those who surrendered firearms used in the commission of a crime will indeed be arrested and prosecuted.
When he announced the amnesty earlier this year, Ndeitunga was quoted as saying “Cabinet endorsed the month of September as the amnesty month to surrender weapons, ammunitions and armaments without any fear of prosecution”.
During the announcement of the amnesty, Albert Kawana, the minister responsible for the police, said, “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: 1 to 30 September 2021”.
However, when Ndeitunga this week announced the results of the amnesty month, he stated that any person associated with a weapon used in a crime would be arrested and prosecuted.
The head of the police’s media liaison department, Kauna Shikwambi, said on the police and media WhatsApp group yesterday it was a strategic move.
She added: “But in all earnestly, the exemption was merely for the illegal possession. Justice must prevail and hence consequent to ballistic tests, any arm used in the commission of crime will definitely be followed”.
Ndeitunga strongly denied he intentionally misled the nation that nobody will be prosecuted, saying it only applied to the surrender of the firearms and not to any crime linked to it.
He announced 570 illegal firearms were surrendered to the police and 24 334 rounds of ammunition countrywide.
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.
The lowest number was handed over in the Zambezi region, where only two firearms were surrendered.
Kawana, in Parliament on Tuesday, while reporting to the august house on the outcome of the amnesty month, also warned those who did not use the amnesty month to get rid of illegal weapons, as government would not show any mercy, within the letter and spirit of the country’s laws, to any person who is in possession of illegal weapons and ammunition.
“The government has been patient enough to grant amnesty for an entire month to those who are in possession of illegal weapons and ammunition. The amnesty period has expired. The kid gloves of the government have been removed,” Kawana warned.
“Any persons with illegal firearms are now liable to prosecution,” he added.
“It is clear that those who failed to surrender their illegal weapons and ammunition have a sinister ulterior motive. They want to disturb peace and stability, but the long arm of the law will catch up with them,” Kawana said.
He said the Namibian people are committed to ensuring Namibia remains a beacon of peace and stability.
He called on all peace-loving Namibians to give information to the relevant authorities regarding those who are still in possession of illegal weapons and ammunition so that the law can take its course.
He expressed his appreciation and gratitude to Ndeitunga and the men and women in uniform, whom he said worked tirelessly to inform those who were in possession of illegal weapons and ammunition to surrender them to the authorities.
He also expressed his appreciation and gratitude to the media – both print and electronic –, which he said played an important role in publicising the amnesty month.
Kawana further thanked those who answered police call to surrender their illegal weapons and ammunition.
“With the surrender of the illegal weapons and ammunition, Namibia has become safer and peaceful. Our women and children, who are often victims of these types of weapons, have a reason to appreciate the effort of our government in ensuring that our citizens are safe from illegal weapons and ammunition, which have been surrendered,” he said.
The next amnesty period will be in September 2022.