Malawi courts jails 4, fines duo for aiding illegal lags from Ethiopia

A Magistrate Court in Karonga district has convicted and sentenced four Malawians to serve a total of 16 months imprisonment with hard for aiding 62 Ethiopians to enter Malawi illegally.

The four are Charles Msowoya, 40 years of Mwahimba village; Allan Kaponda, 30 years, of Mwafilaso village; Davie Kawonga, 30 years, of Malema village and Mukumbwa Gondwe, 31 years of Mwafilaso village.

All the convicts hail from the area of Paramount Chief Kyungu in Karonga district.

The illegal lags

The northern part of Malawi borders with Zambia and Tanzania, which are porous, are a well known entry point for foreigners especially from Ethiopia and Somalia who use Malawi as a transit point to economic giant South Africa and other countries.

Fours months ago,  over 40 Ethiopians suffocated to death in Tanzania in a truck container that was destined for Malawi . And just recently over 60 drowned in Lake Malawi when an overloaded boat they were packed in capsized.

Karonga Police Spokesperson Enock Livasoni confirmed the development saying Police nabbed the quartet during the night of 10th -11th September 2012 at a Police check point in Karonga district.

Police Prosecutor Inspector Peter Pilingu told the Karonga Court that cases of aiding illegal immigrants were on the increase in the country saying the development is security risk to Malawi.

Pilingu then implored the Court to mete stiffer sentences that should act as a deterrent despite the fact that the maximum sentence is a fine of a mere K25,000 kwacha or in default serve a  6 months imprisonment with hard labour.

First Grade Magistrate Patrick Khamisa agreed with the state and convicted the four on their own plea of guilty.

In mitigation they all asked for leniency saying they have got big family responsibilities.

Magistrate  Khamisa sentenced Kaponda, Kawonga and Gondwe to serve 6 months in prison because they were first offenders while Msowoya was sentenced to 10 months IHL since he is a repeat offender.

While a similar Court in Mzimba district in the same region on Friday fined two other Malawians MK15,000 each or in default serve a jail term of 8 months imprisonment .

In Mzimba, the duo Charles Mkandawire, 28, of Mwenelondo village T/A Kyungu District Karonga and God Nyondo, 30, of Mkonongo village T/A Chikulamayembe District Rumphi, were charged with aiding Illegal Immigrants under Immigration Act.

Mzimba Police Station Press and Public Relations Officer Gift Nyirongo said Police on the night of September 6 2012 intercepted 11 illegal immigrants at Jenda road block who were travelling in a Mini Bus registration number LA 4035.

According to Nyirongo nine are Ethiopians while three are Congolese.

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