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Police grants amnesty to unlicenced gun owners

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KALAYA—We are ready to receive firearms

Five years after delegates to the 29th Summit of the African Union (AU) held in Ethiopia designated the month of September as ‘Africa Amnesty Month’, the Malawi Police Service (MPS) has extended an olive branch to people that own unlicenced guns to surrender them to law enforcers.

However, MPS spokesperson Peter Kalaya said those that will surrender small and light weapons that were used in criminal activities will still face the long arm of the law.

At the Ethiopia summit, held in July 2017, AU member states indicated that the month of September would be “Africa Amnesty Month for the surrender and collection of illicit small arms and light weapons”.

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Kalaya said Malawi has been observing activities designated for the month, but admitted that raising public awareness on the issue has been a challenge.

“The thing is, we are ready to receive firearms, specifically small and light weapons that are in the hands of people who are not licenced to keep them. Such people are free to go to any police station and surrender the weapons.

“What happens is that some people are keeping small and light weapons that were registered by their parents or grandparents. Under the laws of Malawi, only those who own guns registered in their name are eligible to own the weapons. That is why we are urging those that are keeping weapons that are not registered in their name to voluntarily surrender them to any police station and there will be no repercussions,” he said.

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The police spokesperson said people can also take advantage of the month to change ownership of guns so that all due processes can be followed.

He was quick to say, in cases when they realise that a gun was used in a criminal activity, those linked to its use would still be investigated and prosecuted.

“Other guns were used in criminal activities; in such cases, we investigate and find out what happened,” Kalaya said.

Meanwhile, People’s Federation for National Peace and Development (Pefenap), which promotes proper use of guns and light weapons, has lamented the illicit proliferation and use of firearms in Malawi and Africa as a whole.

“The use of small arms in various parts of Africa causes countless deaths, untold suffering, population displacement, disruption of livelihoods, destruction of infrastructure and disruption of economic activities, which all combine to undermine efforts to realise the goal of creating a conflict-free, integrated and prosperous Africa, as envisioned in Agenda 2063,” said Pefenap Executive Director Edward Chaka.

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