In a statement issued Monday, Police notes that the liberation war left grenades, unexploded ordnances (UXO’s) and other small arms on the surface of Rwanda.
These undetonated UXO’s and recent series of grenade blasts across the country have claimed innocent lives including children.
Such incidences are a clear indication that there are still firearms in illegal hands.
“In a recent example, on July 6 in Ngoma district Karembo sector, one sub machine gun, serial number 9132 with 22 rounds was recovered after a suspected criminal in a robbery case Cyprien Byukusenge, was arrested on July 5 in Nyagatare district,” noted the statement.
Byukusenge confessed that the same weapon had been used in a robbery incidence that took place on February 15, 2012 in Rurenge sector.
In a different incident in Rutsiro district, Police recovered an old Uzi gun, serial number no 7754 with one magazine containing 22 rounds illegally held by Desiré Kwitonda, an Intersec security company guard.
However Kwitonda voluntarily handed over the arm and as per Policy of exonerating those who handed out firearms willingly, he was not arrested.
It’s in this regard that Rwanda National Police once again calls on those who are still in possession of arms illegally or who happen to know their whereabouts to hand them over to security organs or local authorities.
“As for those who are afraid of being identified, Police has put in place a toll free line 112 where they can report the whereabouts of the illegal arms. This move has also encouraged them to leave fire arms in public places where the police can easily access them,” reads a police statement.
Police urges the public to voluntarily hand over illegal weapons as failure to do so may result in penalties ranging from five years in prison to life sentence, a fine or even both.
According to the new penal code of 14 June 2012, Article 671 related to possession, selling, manufacturing, falsification of identification marks, distribution and importing arms.
Any person who illegally possesses, lends or gives an arm, or falsifies its identification marks, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of six months to one year and a fine ranging from three hundred thousand to three million Rwandan francs or one of the above penalties.
Only security organs mandated by the law are allowed to possess fire arms. However, security companies are allowed to carry firearms but with express permission from relevant authorities.
In a related development, Police in Nyamirambo is currently holding a man who was arrested after leasing a firearm.
Felecien Ntibaringanira 32 was arrested on Saturday in Nyabugogo after hiring a pistol from one of his associates in Muhima sector whose name police cannot mention as investigations are ongoing.
Ntibaringanira, a tax collector at Murunda market in Nyagatare district hired the firearm for Frw 100,000 to kill one of his former colleague Gilbert Habiyambere after the two developed irreconcilable differences.
According to Ntibaringanira, he had planned to kill Habiyambere because of assaulting him on suspicion that he took his wife. Ntibaringanira said that he had developed severe wounds form Habiyambere beatings.
Habiyambere was arrested but later released as Ntibaringanira requested that he be released thinking that Habiyambere had learnt his lesson.
Ntibaringanira claims that despite his arrest and release Habiyambere continued to beat him up.
“I realized that Habiyambere was going to kill me eventually then I decided to look for someone who could lease me a gun so that I can use it to kill him and return it back,” Ntibaringanira said.
On arriving in Kigali, Ntibaringanira met with his colleagues in Nyabugogo where the exchange was made.
While living they were immediately intercepted by Police but his colleague escaped. Investigations are on going to establish the whereabouts of Ntibaringanira’s colleague.
If convicted, Ntibanyurwa is likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment according to article 140 of the new Penal code.
Police spokesperson, Superintendent Theos Badege said that owning firearms illegally is a serious crime that is heavily punishable by law.
“Those who suffered injustice should not take matters into their own hands but instead seek Police help or even courts of law so that justice can prevail,” Badege said.
While the exact number of people licensed to own personal arms could not be established by press time, Badege noted that when one requests to own a fire arm and Police finds the reasons given legitimate it is provided.
He said that the fire arms seeker is trained on the usage, provided with proper storage and monitored constantly to establish whether the firearm is used for the stated purposes.
Superintendent Badege however insisted that there is no reason for one to own a firearm illegally.
“The country is secure and there should be no reason for people to own guns illegally,” Badege added.