Police nab 220 suspects over illegal possession of firearms

DODOMA: HEAD of Firearms Control and Registration Unit, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Bertha Mlay has said a total of 220 suspects countrywide were arrested for illegal possession of firearms between September 2022 to September, this year.

In the same swoop, some 17 suspects were apprehended for illegally owning some ammunition in the same period.

CPA Mlay made the remarks in Dodoma on Tuesday, during a meeting with the Tanzania Women’s Police Network and the leaders of women’s groups in the region to give update report on the effects of small-arms and light weapons in the society.

“In the period from September last year, a total of 220 suspects were arrested for illegal possession of firearms and 17 suspects were arrested for illegal possession of ammunition,” he pointed out.

Elaborating, she noted that this month was to mark the end of the grace period granted to those owning any weapon illegally to surrender them voluntarily, but it was extended to 31st October, 2023, noting that, thereafter, the law will take its course.

She further said that firearms and other weapons in the hands of registered individuals have benefits when used properly, but become harmful to the society, when used contrary to the law.

“Firearms and other weapons are not bad, but when they are owned and used arbitrarily, they can cause serious harm to the community members, they can lead to violence, murder, raids, looting and theft of property, sexual violence, terrorism and piracy at sea,” she pointed out.

Equally, the cop said that the Tanzania Firearms Control and Registration Act 2015 and its regulations allow individuals and companies to possess firearms based on the use specified law, including personal protection, property protection, and target competition.

Likewise, she said that any illegal possession including hire to unathorised people could lead to instability, conflict, threats and civil war, and ultimately deterioration of economy and a setback to the nation.

“The government continues to take various steps in curbing illegal possession and sale of weapons in the streets and arbitrary use of these weapons. For that matter, any person illegally owning any should surrender it during the grace period,” CPA Mlay added.

On her part, the Head of the Tanzania Women’s Police Network, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Eva Steshen, said the effects of firearms proliferation is a serious threat to the nation, adding that it is the responsibility of every person, who illegally owns weapons them to surrender them.

She said by November 1 this year, the Tanzania Police Force would no longer show mercy and any person found in possession would be arrested.

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