Magistrate calls for review of Malawi Immigration Act

The First Grade Magistrate Court in Mzuzu has expressed the need to urgently review the Immigration Act saying current the penalty for perpetrators convicted of aiding and abetting of illegal immigrants is “too soft and attractive to aspiring offenders”

Aiding and Abetting unlawful entry which is contrary to section 36 of Immigration Act Cap15:03 Volume three of the laws of Malawi – attracts a maximum sentence of 1 year imprisonment with hard labour or an option of MK25,000 fine.

Many convicts have paid the MK25,000 with ease in almost the call cases Nyasa Times has covered concerning the trials of either undocumented immigrants or their ‘fixers’.

First Grade Magistrate Court Anthony Banda made the impassioned plea when he ordered two Malawians to pay K25,000 each or in default serve a 10 month custodial sentence for allegedly aiding and abetting unlawful entry of 14 Ethiopians into Malawi.

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The convicts are, Happy Kilimbe 33 , hails from Chilanga Village in the area of Traditional Authority Mwenemisuku in Chitipa District, while 18 year old Matthews Ngonya comes from Mwenipela Village in the area of Traditional Authority Mwakaboko in Karonga District .

Malawi Revenue Authority Vehicle patrol Team intercepted the Ethiopians on the night of November 5, 2013 at Kadikechi along Mzuzu – Mzimba road while travelling in motor vehicle registration number KA 3456.

During the trial of the duo ‘fixers’ Police Prosecutor Sergeant Keston Chiona implored on the Court to mete out a deterrent sentence arguing that the conduct of the duo in aiding undocumented nationals put Malawi at security risk.

Chiona also observed that Malawi spends a lot of money in repatriating of the illegal and undocumented immigrants.

Banda concurred with the state that illegal immigrants were a threat to the country’s security.

Paradoxically, Banda returned the vehicle used in the crime to the owner saying the Court assumes that he or she may have been ignorant of the convicts’ deal.

But warned that it will be forfeited to the Malawi government should it be involved in similar crimes.

Malawi safe transit route for Ethiopians

In June 2013 the Malawi Police Service also arrested 27 Ethiopians after intercepting them in two hired Minibuses that had used uncharted routes to avoid Police checkpoints at Dunduzu and Samikwa in Mzuzu.

Armed Police blocked the vehicles’ entry into the M1 road to Lilongwe at a place called Kadikechi but the Drivers of the two 16 seater Minibuses fled leaving the Ethiopians and the vehicles, Mzuzu Police Station Public Relations Officer Sergeant Maurice Chapola said.

Police confiscated the two vehicles registration number MJ6297 and MJ5848 belonging to Mr. J Nyimbiri of Kaporo in Karonga district.

In February 2013, Police in the northern city of Mzuzu in conjunction with Forestry officials nabbed 44 illegal immigrants from Somalia and Tanzania in an operation meant to rid the 53 000 hectare Viphya Plantation of illegal operators.

In March this year, the Immigration department in Mzuzu arrested 29 Ethiopians who were packed in the chassis of a flatbed Lilongwe bound Truck Trailer following a tip off from patriotic Malawians.

The 30 metric tonnes Freightliner Truck belonging to UJ Trucking of Lilongwe was coming from Songwe border, Karonga district, about 260 Km from Mzuzu and had successfully passed through about four Police checkpoints manned by both armed and unarmed Cops and even some in plain clothes.

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