Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tanzania: Tourists, Travelers Need to Be Prepared for Threat of Armed Robbery

Minister for Home Affairs Dr. Emmanuel Chimbi announced on December 4, that citizens possessing illegal firearms have one month to surrender them to police of face legal consequences.

Such a drastic edict no doubt is attempting to control the proliferation of armed robbery, which is at a crisis level in Tanzania. For example, in the past nine months 144 people have been killed by firearms, including six police officers.

Now, here's the interesting part: in Tanzania,  out of every 100 residents possesses a firearm, a very, very low level of possession given comparative analysis. Such data suggests that only the powerful and influential may possess a firearm legally.

Moreover, according to Tanzanian law, the "possession of handguns, pistols, rifles and military firearms are prohibited." What that essentially means is that virtually no one can possess a firearm in the country...except the criminals, who, obviously, have no restrictions.

Again, for clarification purposes, if no citizen can legally own a "handgun, pistol or rifle," then ALL firearms in the country are either in the hands of criminals or the police, which leaves Tanzanian citizens with NO protection from mayhem.

According to Tanzania's TheCitizen, during January through September 2012, 876 acts of armed robbery translated into the theft of Sh4.56 billion (US$2,769,930).  

Interestingly, when you divide 876 cases of armed robbery into US$2,769,930, you end up with a mean per incident of US$3,162, which suggests that there is some serious money being stolen in Tanzania.

Between January and September 2012, 304 firearms were seized by police, yet there is no correlation of guns seized to the number of weapons used in conjunction with armed robberies, as bladed weapons may also have been utilized to commit an armed robbery. 

As crime spiked in 2006, Tanzania's solution was to authorize police to shoot-to-kill. That being said, such an archaic public policy has had little results, particularly with a per capita income of US$1,600.

COMMENT: The US Department of State categorizes Tanzania as critical threat for crime, which is the highest level on the Department's escalating threat levels of low, medium, high and critical.

The rate of licensed firearms holders in Tanzania is 0.21 per 100 residents, suggesting that very few residents (including expatriates) have the ability to defend themselves from violent crime, unless a police officer observes a crime in progress, which is obviously rare.


As this report is posted, I would suggest our readers also review another posting today on Tanzania, which describes the murder of Toronto social worker Susan Wells, 41, who was killed by an assailant wielding a machete. Details are sketchy at this point, but the motivation and details of Ms. Wells' death will be updated as new information becomes available.

With less than .25% of the population having access to a legal firearm, it is completely understandable why there is a crime crisis in Tanzania. It is unlikely that this crisis will continue unabated.