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Africa - Illegal Guns: What Can Be Done?

by Mopheme/The Survivor (Maseru)
July 11, 2000

Maseru - There has never been a time when so many (illegal) guns have been collected in the country. And, with this, the best we can think of is destroying them! Get them away from the hands of possible criminals and so on and so forth. Why? Isn't there any other thing we can think of.

The reason why such an argument is brought forward could be one. From the many collected, surrendered and found guns, there are quiet a number of them which were made locally, by own Basotho people. What does this mean to us? Catching up with technology or responding to the rising crime and security inefficiencies?

What is also commendable about the collected guns is that most of them were handed in by owners, responding to the indemnity order while others were found abandoned? From what the official side has so far, Cabinet is still to make a decision about the fate of those guns. What we don't know is what will be the future of the security of people, especially against the heavily armed criminals and elements of political doom.

In our own understanding, for people to go to an extend of making their own guns or even trying to modify the existing calibres of what they should legally have, as was seen in some cases, is a clear indication of a plight.

Is there ever a time when the national police will respond positively to crises and be able to prevent crime instead of responding to already committed criminal activities? How many times do people get responses from the police stations such as the 'police don't have a vehicle to respond now', and many other excuses that are forwarded from time to time?

We hope as part of a Cabinet resolution to the fate of the guns, it will be built on it, a resolution on the protection of citizens, residents and visitors of this country from the ever firing guns of the criminals. We also believe that part of the resolution will be to put on top priority the fight against crime as part of bringing back the country to stability and peace, law and order and a positive direction towards national development.

In another note, we would also like to appeal to the government to take into consideration as part of their resolution to the fate of the collected arms, that some people are collectors or could like to be collectors, especially of the memoirs of the last world wars where our grand fathers took part. Why destroy a rifle that is part of my family/country's history, just because there is no modern law to protect me? A lot of reformation is under way on our laws, and as a result, collectors, museums and other presevers should also be given a chance to play their role.

As a last note, like the police confirmed there are still a lot more illegal guns out there, we hope all Basotho will work together with the police to recover them, but the exercise should not only be to harass certain people only.... 1998 has shown us how much guns we have around....


Copyright (c) 2000 Mopheme/The Survivor. Originally distributed via Africa News Online ( at this location. Reprinted with the author's permission.