Citation(s) from the literature library

Pearce, Christopher J. and Ulrich Weyl. 2003 ‘Supply of Small Arms and Ammunition.’ Rapid Assessment of the Small Arms Situation in Malawi; 7.1.1, pp. 17-19. Eschborn: Development Cooperation and Small Arms Control (DECOSAC), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ). 1 January

Relevant contents


Mozambique was, and is, the main source of supply of illegal firearms that find their way into the hands of criminal elements in Malawi and many other SADC countries. The large extent of Malawi's borders with Mozambique, including Lake Malawi, is such that controlling movement across the border is extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Weapons, primarily AK-47 assault rifles (7,62 mm intermediate calibre) and automatic pistols (Makarov and Tokarev; 7,62mm short calibre), are sold cheaply. The price of an AK00-47 varies, but is roughly the same as the cost of a 50kg bag of maize (or US$ 20 as an approximation), according to most informants. Ammunition is not a problem and is supplied with the weapons. Re-supply is also readily available from Mozambique.

Great Lakes…

Concerns are expressed by the MPS and others that SA are also finding their way into the country from the Great Lakes Region, both directly and via Tanzania and Zambia…(5)

South Africa

Another source of supply is South Africa. According to the MPS(6), in the period 1997 to 1999 the force recovered 198 illegal weapons… Anecdotal evidence has it that a number of handguns from South Africa are purchased illegally in that country and are smuggled into Malawi for resale. There is, according to those questioned, a market for handguns for personal protection. This exists because it is extremely difficult to obtain a licence for a handgun in Malawi…(7)

Homemade Weapons

Homemade weapons, which include muzzle-loaders and quite sophisticated shotguns, are another source of illegal weapons supply. Rural communities living adjacent to national park areas commonly have illegal gunsmiths who do a brisk trade in weapons manufacture for poaching. Along the Malawi-Zambia border there is some small cross-border trade in such firearms, some of which has included quite sophisticated single-shot pistols. These have, according to anecdotal evidence, been reported by the Zambian Police to have been used to stage armed robberies on rural stores.(8)

Legally Held Weapons

In terms of small arms proliferation the issue of legally-held weapons cannot be ignored, particularly since legal or licensed weapons can and do find their way into the armed crime scene. This happens through the theft of weapons, illegal use by licensed holders of weapons, or employees of the state and other institutions licensed to hold firearms…

[SADC = Southern African Development Community; MPS = Malawi Police Service; SA = Small Arms]


5) Firearms Proliferation and Violent Crime in Malawi: Paper presented by Undule Mwakasungura of CHRR: Round Table Meeting: "Community Support to Help Police to Stop Firearms Proliferation to Malawi," Lilongwe. 14 July 1999. The same paper records the following account given by a FRELIMO soldier: " We knew that guns would make good business, so we kept the best for ourselves. I have sold to some dealers from Joni and I keep others for the future. The secret is to keep them in good condition. FRELIMO was never going to pay us for the years we were made to fight. We have to look after ourselves." (Joni is in the Southern Region of Malawi) See also summary meeting report with Com. E. Thodi MPS HQ: Research & Development Branch

6) MPS: Project Proposal for Trainer Workshops On The Control of Proliferation of Small Firearms In Malawi: Undated but thought to be from mid-to-late 2001.

7) This was corroborated by the CID of the MPS, and further by the DPP Mr. Fahad A.U. Assani in a meeting with the consultant on 29 October 2002

8) Senior staff DNPW Northern Division: Meeting held at Mzuzu on 4 November 2002

ID: Q8866

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