Malawi court fines driver for aiding 29 illegal Ethiopians

The Mzuzu Senior Resident Magistrate Court has fined a truck driver MK46,000 or in default serve a six month jail term after he pleaded guilty  to aiding and abetting 29 illegal Ethiopian immigrants.

The driver, Stanley Mbonekera, from Kapheta Village in T/A Kalumbu in Lilongwe district, paid the fine.

During the court appearance, d efense Lawyer Christon Ghambi of CHRAM Associates successfully pleaded with the court for leniency, saying his client did not recognize the people he carried since he picked them at night.

Ghambi also said his client was a first offender.justice

But the State asked the court to give a deterrent sentence arguing that some of the illegal immigrants were a security risk since they were coming from war torn countries.

However, Magistrate Austin Banda gave the convict an option for fine or imprisonment.

The Immigration department in Mzuzu on Monday 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 check points manned by both armed and unarmed Cops and even some in plain clothes.

“One fixer bolted at the scene of arrest and the other two who were handcuffed together jumped from a moving Land cruiser pick –up and they are still at large,” Public Relations Officer for the Immigration department in the northern Region Comet Jeremiah told Nyasa Times.

Immigration Officers told Nyasa Times that when arrived at Dunduzu Road block with the seized truck and the illegal immigrants, Police Officers at the Check point were busy playing ‘Bawo’ and were not concerned.

“When we wanted to borrow some handcuffs they said they did not have and they continued with their Bawo,” an Immigration officer revealed to NyasaTimes.

But Mzuzu Police Public Relations Officer, Sergeant Maurice Chapola claimed the illegal immigrants were arrested at Dunduzu Road Block.

Sergeant Chapola attributed the arrests to the ‘good relationship’ that the police had with the public adding that the arrests were also part of a campaign to flush illegal foreigners in the northern region.

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