Opuwo — Traditional leaders in the Kunene Region want measures to be put in place for unlicensed firearms confiscated by the Opuwo police to be registered and returned to their lawful owners.
The Opuwo police are in possession of around 400 unlicensed firearms that were either confiscated from people in the Kunene Region, or handed in by members of the community.
Speaking at a meeting with the Inspector-General of the Namibian Police (Nampol), Lieutenant-General Sebastian Ndeitunga, at Opuwo on Wednesday, the traditional leaders asked that these firearms be registered and returned to their owners if they have been reported stolen or used in any crimes.
According to the traditional leaders, some of the firearms were acquired from Angolan nationals by the owners in exchange for cattle in earlier years, "when no documentation or licences were required".
Some of the confiscated firearms were also said to have been inherited from relatives or acquired from the colonial government, the traditional leaders said, hence there are no records of the firearms.
The issue was also raised at a meeting between Ndeitunga and regional councillors at Opuwo on Tuesday.
The NamPol Inspector-General at Tuesday's meeting called on the police force's regional commander in the Kunene, Commissioner Mandume Shifonono, to consult the courts on what to do with the unlicensed firearms kept at the Opuwo police station.
The confiscated firearms include pistols, shotguns, AK-47 assault rifles and hunting rifles.
"The community members know where to go and get their documents or licences for these firearms in order for the firearms to be returned to them, but since the firearms were confiscated no owner has returned with documentation to claim their firearms," Ndeitunga noted.
He said it would not be wise for the police to return the unlicensed guns to the owners as it is unlawful and will "create problems" in the country.
"Everyone who has had an unlicensed firearm confiscated by the police will then come to the police and claim back their firearms," he said.
The Inspector-General further said that in order for the firearms to be registered, even in the case of inherited ones, the first owner's licence should be produced, in addition to letters from headmen and relatives stating that the person applying for a licence is indeed the lawful owner.