How Malawians travel to South Africa without documents

There was a disturbing story in the local press recently about 19 Malawian women and children who spent over a month at Chipinge Prison in Zimbabwe for contravening Zimbabwe’s Immigration Act.

Malawians continue to trek to South Africa for economic reasons

The story says that of the 19 people, 14 were women and five were under-five children who were travelling to South Africa in a bus, but were intercepted by Zimbabwe police at a road block because they did not have travel documents. The story itself is not new. Malawians have been travelling to South Africa without passports or any form of identity for many years.

But how is it possible that people could travel to South Africa without travel documents? Some people blame porous borders. This is true, but only part of the story.  However, the major problem is corruption at border posts and road blocks from Malawi to South Africa. People who travel to South Africa without passports are actually trafficked by transporters (whether by bus or light vehicle), mostly from Mzimba and Mangochi, who bribe their way to South Africa. It is a multimillion kwacha racket that involves immigration officials and other security agents. And this is why it is difficult to curb the malpractice because law enforcers benefit from it.

The corruption starts at Malawian border posts such as Dedza and Mwanza.  Transporters pay huge bribes to law enforcers both on the Malawian and Mozambican side for safe passage. Sometimes transporters can stay at Dedza border a day or two negotiating their way through. Once in Mozambique, transporters have two options to use. One route is to go via Maputo and use the Lebombo border post with South Africa. Those who have used this route will tell you that it takes about two weeks to reach Johannesburg. Apart from the route being long, transporters have to pay bribes all the way to until they reach South Africa. And usually they travel at night because there are few roadblocks.  The passengers are subjected to untold suffering such as harassment from Mozambican police, hunger and exhaustion.

The second option is to use the Zimbabwean route which takes them through to Nyamapanda and Beitbridge.  Again, transporters bribe their way through. They popularly call it ‘kugula musewu’ (‘to buy the road’). Travellers who opt to use the Beitbridge route have to jump the border. Transporters arrange with private individuals to assist travellers to cross the crocodile-infested Limpopo River at great risk. Sometimes travellers have fallen into the hands of criminals known as ‘amaguma guma’ who have robbed them of their money and other valuables. In extreme cases, they have murdered travellers and raped women.

Once they cross the river, travellers walk for many kilometres before they reach Musina town from where they start the final leg of their journey to Johannesburg whose route has very few road blocks and rarely do they check travel documents.

 

The latest saga of undocumented women and children travelling to South Africa being apprehended in Zimbabwe should be seen as an unfortunate incident. The traffickers met ethical law enforcers who refused to take bribes. Otherwise these traffickers have been getting away with their criminal behaviour for many years courtesy of corrupt officials in Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa who receive colossal bribes to enable human traffickers drive through the check point with illegal immigrants.

So while fingers are pointing at porous borders for people travelling without documents, the main culprits are law enforcement agents at border posts and on the roads. If the vice is to be stopped, the starting point is to stop corruption at Malawian borders. Get those corrupt law enforcers behind bars! This a special message to the Anti-Corruption Bureau. Let investigative officers go to the border posts and observe what is happening there. It’s shocking!

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Mwana wa Anabanda
Mwana wa Anabanda
2 years ago

Malawi government has no answers for its citizens. Sleeping all the way

Chilungamo
2 years ago

Munakweza passport anthu alibe ndalamayo atani munabera ndi ma mps omwe anzeru kuti musamatsutsidwe mfundo ZANU Malawia anatukuka chifukwa cha jon osati boma lanu pano mukukhomelera kuti anthu asapite angofa basi aliyense otsutsana nanu munam.bera anthu akuthawa mukuwatsskera njjra passport kukweza kuposa maiko onse apasi pathambo

Sam
Sam
2 years ago
Reply to  Chilungamo

Thatstrue we are suffering in our own country .We wil never stop.Tatukuta ndi
joni yomweyi

Chilungamo
2 years ago

19 Malawian arrest

Chilungamo
2 years ago

Muziopa mulungu

Chilungamo
2 years ago

My opinion

Chilungamo
2 years ago

Join discussion

Chilungamo
2 years ago

Reply

Chilungamo
2 years ago

Just

Chilungamo
2 years ago

Problem is Malawi government the y just increasing passport like what the whole world’s it’s only Malawi it got expensive passport ananena kale Alucius banda kuti kufuna kutk amalwi angofa akasankha president akumukana kufunaazilamulira okha ma mps osagwilizana nawo iwo kubeledwa kumalawi kwachitika zisankho koma chapitachi otsutsa ma mps abeledwa cholinga asa.atsutse koma akati passport ikwere onse m,manja kwainuyo sindalama koma lebara ayi tengakuti apite opanda pass walakwa Malawi yatukuka chifukwa cha jon osati inu am.bomanu

vavlov
vavlov
2 years ago
Reply to  Chilungamo

The question is why are so many people leaving Malawi? Poverty aggravated by political greed, limited employment to the few privileged, poor education, lack of visible development in some regions of the country are the key factors forcing the poor to take the risk to travel to RSA. Corrupt officials are thriving on this. To deal with this, sort-out issues of poor education, poor and biased development, do not vote for greedy and corrupt leaders, and mercilessly deal with corrupt officials who aid travelers without documents/passport.

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2 years ago

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King's-son@265
2 years ago
Reply to  Altara Loans

iweso usandibhowe wamva eti, we have enough problems already here……… mxewww

Angoni apaphata
Angoni apaphata
2 years ago
Reply to  Altara Loans

Mbava inanso ndiye imeneyi

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