Power and Politics

Govt laments rise in ‘contract killings’, threatens severe sanctions against illegal use of firearms


Government says it is concerned that some individuals are being engaged as contract killers in the country and are using firearms to take innocent lives in communities.

Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister, Jack Mwiimbu, said the country had witnessed a rise in unlawful discharge of firearms in public and private places.

Delivering a Ministerial Statement in Parliament on Wednesday in Lusaka, Mwiimbu said sadly, in some cases, life had been lost.

He stated that rarely had a month gone by without the awful news of unlawful firearm discharge in a home, night club or other public places.

“Many communities, especially in high density areas and rural places, are ravaged almost daily by gun violence that does not make the news headlines,” the Minister said.

He noted that some individuals had even taken their own lives using firearms, either legally owned or acquired through other means.

Mwiimbu stated that the incidents were indelibly etched in the memories of Zambians and had become taxing to the law enforcement officers.

“It is not just the law enforcement officers who should be worrying about guns being in the wrong hands, but every citizen, because everyone at the end of the day, is a potential victim,” the Minister said.

He added that as much as citizens were free to legally own fire arms, as provided for by the law for security reasons and for licensed game hunting, it was regrettable that some people were abusing the weapons by taking human life.

Mwiimbu cautioned that this was unacceptable and should be stopped forthwith, warning that the country would act to stem the new tide of violence and the motivation that drives it.

“We cannot allow the unlawful use of firearms to become routine in our society. I am optimistic that we have the ability to end this tragic cycle of violence, but it will require us to come together in full urgency and honesty,” Mwiimbu said.

Mwiimbu said the Firearms Act of 1970, Chapter 110 of the Laws of Zarnbia established a framework for legally prohibiting certain categories of people from possessing firearms.

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“The recent shootings have shone the spotlight on our country and the strength of our firearms’ legal regime. The number of civilian firearms legally registered in Zarnbia is estimated to be at around 38 572,” the Minister stated.

He said the exact number of civilian-owned firearms was impossible to pinpoint because of a variety of factors, including arms that go unregistered, the illegal trade, and regional conflict.

Mwiimbu disclosed that the General Firearms Amnesty for instance had seen the surrendering of over 6,500 arms for destruction by members of the public since its implementation commenced in 2011.

“We commend all members of the public who have positively responded to the firearms amnesty call and appeal to many more to surrender their firearms to the Zambia Police Service for appropriate action,” he said.

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