KIGALI - Rwanda National Police (RNP) has warned people who illegally possess firearms, to voluntarily surrender them to the concerned authorities before stiff measures are taken.
Speaking to journalists yesterday, Police Spokesperson, Supt. Theos Badege, noted that despite the positive results registered in surrendering firearms in the recent past, some people still possess illegal guns.
The warning follows a series of armed robberies in several parts of the country, the most recent being in Gasabo District, on Wednesday night, when four people were arrested after a foiled robbery attempt, and found in possession of an SMG gun.
“In general, there is security countrywide…but there are some cases of armed robberies. There are also cases of people still possessing firearms, hidden in houses,” Badege said.
According to a police report, three deaths and 33 injuries resulting from firearms have been registered since last month.
The removal of the illegal Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) from the public and destruction is part of the 2005 Nairobi Protocol signed by 11 countries from the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa and bordering states, aimed at preventing, control and reduction of SALW in the sub-region.
Over 32,000 illicit firearms have been destroyed since 2006.
“It has emerged that there are still weapons in various parts of the country; in homes and farmyards,” revealed Badege.
“We urge all those who still own them or know the whereabouts to surrender or report them to the nearest authorities”.
He added that RNP offices are always open to receive and register the fire arms.
“No one will be arrested for voluntarily surrendering them because they will have done it in a legal way,” he reassured.
Last year, police issued a seven-month ‘grace period’ for voluntary surrender of weapons, a date which expired in June last year..
Article 70 of the law says that any person, who illegally uses a firearm, refuses to show a firearm or related documents to relevant authorities when required, shall be liable to an imprisonment term of seven days to one year or a fine between Rwf 50,000 and Rwf 250,000 or both.
Badege gave an example of a recent shooting incident involving one, Eric Nshyimiyimana, in Gikondo, Kicukiro District.
He said that police received information from local residents about someone who had a gun and when they stopped Nshyimiyimana for a body search, “he tried to disarm an officer who had stopped him and in the process, Nshyimiyimana was accidentally shot in the chest”.
Nshyimiyimana was subsequently found in possession of a pistol and 20 rounds of ammunition. He is currently admitted at Kacyiru Police Hospital.
“He is steadily recovering…but he is a suspect and he will face justice after he is discharged,” said Badege.