By Kurt Campbell
Days after police recovered several high-powered weapons at Blackwater Backdam, Region Seven, it was revealed on Wednesday that those weapons were possibly stolen from a Bartica businessman who claimed to have been the victim of break and enter and larceny while he was seeking medical attention in the United Kingdom (UK) recently.
President Dr Irfaan Ali travelled to Region Seven on Wednesday where he met gold miners and members of the business community in Bartica; there, the issue of firearms for miners was raised.
One of the small miners claimed that he has been unable to secure a gun license despite the need for security amid the ongoing criminal activities in the interior where gold mining is mostly done.
President Ali agreed that there was a need for protection but said Police Commissioner (ag) Clifton Hicken was currently evaluating the sector, particularly since five assault rifles were found last Saturday at the mining camp.
It was the President who made the link between the discovery and the claim made by businessman Wayne Anthony Heber, who reportedly has a security license, that five weapons were stolen from his premises while he was in the UK.
“Imagine a security firm with five high-powered rifles and can’t secure those rifles. It’s a challenge. We cannot have companies with security licenses having high-powered rifles and it ends up in the hands of people who can destroy the security architecture of a country,” Dr. Ali reasoned.
“No security company in this country will be allowed to do that,” Dr. Ali added before being interrupted by Heber, who sought to explain that the weapons were in fact well secured and he was merely a victim of break and enter and larceny.
But the President said, “I don’t want to prosecute this matter here,” noting that the file on the matter has since been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for advice.
However, the Head of State posited that, in this instance, the guns should have been lodged with the police.
“If I have high-powered weapons and I am leaving the country, what I will do is to lodge it with the police…I will not leave them unattended because the risk of the community is at stake,” Dr. Ali said.
But Heber had a different view. He said, “it is easier said than done to lodge 25 guns with the police when leaving the country.”
Those in attendance disagreed and so did President Ali.
“The license was given on a condition that you have the responsibility to take care of it…as a community, we have to agree with each other, and can’t be on the fence with important matters like this. Everyone’s life is at stake.”
The weapons recovered were a Rickover 5.56 MM Rifle, a Benelli ARMI Rifle, a three gauge Magnum Shotgun, an FN Rifle and 37 .223 rounds of ammunition.
The police reported that the owner of the camp said the suspect is known to him and on Friday night, the suspect visited the camp with the firearms and told the owner he needed money.
“The camp owner said the suspect buried the firearms at three different locations on the campground and then slept the night,” police reported.
The camp owner then directed the ranks to where the firearms were buried.
The firearms and ammunition were taken to the Bartica Police Station and lodged.
Back in May Hicken had said it is “unprofessional” and “unacceptable” for security guards to carry large weapons and has called for an end to the practice.