Tanzania: Police Seize Guns in Operation to Recover Illegal Firearms


By Mugini Jacob, Tanzania Daily News

Date Published
THE influx of illegal firearms in Mara Region is alarming and the police force is now planning a house to house operation aimed at recovering all guns from hands of criminals.

A total of seven illegal firearms most of them submachine guns (SMG) and more than 420 bullets have been seized by the police in Mara Region since the beginning of this year.

“Since January to April 30 this year we have impounded seven guns and four of them are SMGs, two pistols and a shotgun,” said Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (SACP) Ferdinad Mtui, the Regional Police Commander (RPC).

Seven more illegal firearms have been recovered by security personnel of the Tarime/Rorya special police zone during the same period. “On our side, we have seized a total of seven guns, two of which are SMGs, one shotgun, two pistols and two AK 47,” said the RPC for Tarime/Rorya special police zone SACP Justus Kamugisha.

The impounding of illegal fire arms has been made possible with close cooperation of good citizens, thanks to the community policing initiative introduced by the police force several years ago.

“We appeal for more information from wananchi There is no gun that we have picked without the cooperation of wananchi,” SACP Mtui told the ‘Daily News’ early this week. Kigoma region and the neighbouring Kenya are reportedly said to be the major gate ways for illegal fire arms and bullets entering the lake zone of Mara.

Late last month (April) four suspects gun were caught with an SMG and dozens of bullets in Musoma Municipality by good citizens after suspected a box that was loaded with bananas. Two of the suspects were from neighbouring Kenya and two from Tarime district, according to RPC Mtui.

Last weekend the RPC reported that two of the suspects gunmen died shortly after reaching the regional government hospital following a serious beat they got from angry citizens in the scene of their arrest.

The RPC said he was forced to dispatch members of Field Force Unit (FFU) to disperse angry residents from beating the suspects after policemen who were on civilian clothes failed to disperse the angry crowd.

“We took them to the hospital but two of them have died and the rest will be taken to court as soon as ongoing investigations are complete,” the RPC said. He cited Serengeti and Tarime as the districts with  highest number of illegal firearms in Mara Region.

The guns are not only causing insecurity of people and their property but that of wild animals especially elephants as well. “Many illegal firearms are in Serengeti and Tarime and they also targeting the Serengeti wildlife”, the regional police chief said.

He added: We are now moving to an operation from house to house searching for illegal firearms”, SACP Mtui said. Serengeti and Tarime districts have many rural villages located near or within the Serengeti co-system that is blessed with a variety of beautiful wild animals including elephants.

On January this year, security personnel in Tarime apprehended six pieces of elephant tusks believed to be of elephants killed in the Northern fringes of the Serengeti National Park (SENAPA).

This means that a successful battle against illegal firearms in the two districts is imperative in order to save elephants and other animals from being killed by poachers in world famous park and the neighbouring wildlife-rich games reserves of Ikorongo and Grumeti.

The battle against illegal firearms in Tarime and Rorya districts is also underway. “There are illegal fire arms here, we will continue the search,” SACP Kamugisha said. Establishment of the special police zone was aimed at making Tarime a safe place for people to live and participate on social and economic development activities without fear.

The move has witnessed significant increase of security personnel and working tools in the gold-rich district that had in the past experienced frequent clan clashes associated with cross border cattle rustling.

Clan clashes and cross-border cattle rustling have almost become things of the past in the area, thanks to President Jakaya Kikwete’s leadership for seeing the importance of establishing the special police zone. The President pledged to turn Tarime into a safe place as soon as he was voted to power.