Armed to the teeth

As the nation grapples with violent crime, a report has revealed that Namibians own a whopping 200 000 legal small arms.

27 December 2018 | Local News

Namibia has the second highest number of registered small arms in sub-Saharan Africa, with 200 000 in circulation in the country.

This revelation comes as police chief, Inspector-General Sebastian Ndeitunga, issued a stern warning to all firearm owners in Namibia not to discharge their guns during ongoing festive season celebrations, as this is against the law and poses a danger to the public.

Ndeitunga said the police have noted with great concern that members of the public are shooting into the air during Christmas and wedding celebrations.

“Such a practice is a direct contravention of the Arms and Ammunition Act, Act 7 of 1996 and anyone found in contravention of the said Act will face the full wrath of the law,” Ndeitunga said.

According to a newly released report on small arms, titled 'Trade Update 2018 - sub-Saharan Africa in Focus', Namibia has the second highest number of registered small arms in the region, at 200 000, with South Africa topping the list with three million registered small arms.

Malawi has 12 500 registered small arms and Niger 2 000.

According to the report, Namibia was the third largest exporter of small arms in the region, with guns to the value of US$3.4 million exported.

The data covers the period from 2013 to 2015 and is the latest available information.

The main importers of small arms to Namibia are Botswana (34%), South Africa (33%) and Zambia (15%).

South Africa was the largest exporter of small arms to the value of US$62.3 million, while Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya and the Central African Republic (CAR) also made the top five list.

The report further shows that Namibia is also the fourth largest importer of small arms in sub-Saharan Africa, at a value of U$32.2 million, for the period 2013 to 2015.

Namibia's imports of small arms have increased from a mere US$5.4 million to US$22.6 million.

The report noted that Namibia became a major importer for the first time in 2015.

The small arms trade survey has been conducted since 2001.

The main exporter of small arms to Namibia are Russia (77%), the United States (10%) and Germany (7%).

“The Russian Federation delivered US$17.5 million worth of small arms to sub-Saharan Africa during 2013 to 15, mostly - it appears - to Namibia, which reported the import of US$16.7 million worth of small arms from the Russian Federation in 2015,” the report said.

South Africa is the largest importer, at a value of US$126.1 million, while other countries in the top five include Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire and Malawi.

The report further identified the challenge of determining if industrial production is under way in sub-Saharan African, saying that information on whether producers are active or dormant can be contradictory.

“For example, the DRC, Mali, and

Namibia informed the small arms survey that industrial production of small arms, their parts or ammunition does not take place in their state. Yet independent sources point to ammunition producers in all three states,” it said.

Traditionally, there is a low level of openness regarding sub-Saharan African small arms production and transfers, which hampers efforts to determine the sources of supply and volume of small arms flows. Yet, with 22 sub-Saharan African states parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) as of the end of December 2017, and with this number likely to increase further in coming years, it is anticipated that the ATT's requirement for states to report on their small arms imports and exports will enable significantly better monitoring.

The Namibian police earlier this year said it issued over 50 000 firearm licences in the past nine years, with an average of more than 6 000 licences issued per year.

Over the years there have been concerns over the number of people who are in possession of firearm licences, as this poses a security risk because firearms are used in the commission of crimes.

The government introduced an amnesty in 2016 to allow for the surrendering of illegal weapons and ammunition.


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