By Collins Mtika, Nyasa Times
Somalilandsun – The Mzuzu Magistrate Court has fined 44 illegal immigrants from Somalia and Tanzania MK25,000 each or in default serve a three months custodial sentence after convicting them for either illegal stay or entry.
Police in Malawi’s northern city of Mzuzu in conjunction with Forestry officials nabbed the foreigners in an operation meant to rid the 53 000 hectare Viphya Plantation of illegal operators.
Police also confiscated four trucks loaded with planks and amec machines.
First Grade Magistrate Lillian Munthali also gave removal directions for the the illegal immigrants to be deported to their countries of origin.justice
Nyasa Times understands that the foreigners paid the fines but are yet to be repatriated.
Mzuzu Police Station Public Relations Officer Sergeant Maurice Chapola told Nyasa Times that the arrests marked the beginning of a campaign by the law enforcers of flashing out illegal immigrants.
Paradoxically, at the time of arrests Chapola expressed ignorance on the development but Nyasa Times was able to confirm the arrests with other Police sources.
Now Chapola claims the arrests were prompted by reports from villagers who live close to Chigwere and Choma Forests on the outskirts of Mzuzu, who claimed to have seen strange people in military gear early this year.
However, Nyasa Times knows that the arrests came three weeks after Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jane Chilunga blamed locals for bringing in foreigners in the plantation, whom she accused of decimating the forest.
Chilunga also said government will enact a law that would bar foreigners from the plantation.
And that in the preceding week after Chilunga’s visit, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Isaac Maluwa disclosed during a public debate held in Mzuzu that Police had received reports that there were illegal immigrants in the plantation.
Maluwa, who is also Northern Region Police Operations Officer, said the presence of illegal immigrants was a security risk. He did not elaborate.
“Because of unpatriotic Malawians…many foreigners taking part in the harvesting of trees in the Plantation. How they get permits, we don’t know. They have taken advantage of our lack of patriotism,” he said.
And at a recent meeting with villagers at Chigwere Clinic, Mzuzu Police Station Officer-in-Charge Deputy Commissioner of Police Getrude Kachinga called upon the villagers to desist from the tendency of harboring and aiding illegal immigrants.
Kachinga reminded the Chiefs that they have a duty to execute primary justice in their jurisdiction saying it was one was of de-congesting the country’s ever increasing prison population.
But she discouraged them from meting out mob justice urging them to report complicated matters to the nearest Police Station.