Barely a week after the Karonga Senior Resident Magistrate Court fined and ordered two Tanzanian nationals for illegal entry and stay in the country, Police in Mzimba have on Tuesday intercepted 10 people of Bangladeshi nationality for illegal entry.
Particular details of the arrested remain scanty but Mzimba police deputy publicist, John Nyirongo, said the 10 had entered the country illegally through Songwe border in the lakeshore district of Karonga.
Nyirongo said they intercepted a Scania truck registration number KK 8692, which was enroute to the capital Lilongwe, at Raiply road block.
He said two Malawians were also arrested but the driver of the Scania truck is currently at large.
Increased cases of illegal entry
Last week, a court sitting in Karonga found three Tanzanian nationals guilty of illegal stay in Malawi, and has since ordered them to pay fines of K20 000 each and return to their country.
The three are 25 year old George Francis Kombo, 26 year old Julius Moses Koma and 25 year old Abraham Edom.
They all hail from the Tanzanian southern district of Kyela, a one and half hour drive from Malawi’s Karonga district.
State prosecutor sub-inspector, Harrison Mtambalika, submitted before the Karonga Senior Resident Magistrate court, that on May 3, 2021 the three had been staying at Uliwa Trading Centre without a permit.
Mtambalika further told the court that cases of illegal stay were becoming rampant in the lakeshore border district despite government efforts to restrict movements along its borders to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.
He prayed that Senior Resident Magistrate Mateo Fatsani Chitha impose a meaningful sentence to the three with hope that such would deter other would-be offenders.
On passing his judgement, Chitha found the three guilty and fined them K20 000 for illegal stay, and ordered that they go back to their home country within 14 days.
Porous Songwe Border
But as Nyasa Times has found, curbing illegal entry through the Songwe border is not as easy.
“Usually, most illegal immigrants avoid the main border post and instead use unorthodox and dangerous means to get entry into the country. But we are grateful to citizens who always tip us when they suspect unMalawians in their midst,” said Enock Livason, Karonga Police public relations officer (PRO).
According to him, it was sometimes difficult to determine who was Malawian or not as some illegal immigrants can properly mingle with the locals as they speak local languages such as chiNdali, chiNyakusya and kiSwahili fluently.
“The introduction of national identity cards, however, has proved to be quite helpful in identifying who is Malawian and who is not,” said Livason.
A source who spoke to us on condition of anonymity said because of lack of patrols it was easy for migrants to enter the the country near the Songwe border post.
“With the help from some corrupt police officers, and available agents the migrants wait for night fall and through unscrupulous means bypass several security checks points along the roads. During the day the illegal migrants resort to perilous routes through the bush,” said our source.
No stringent policing
According to our source, the government needs to put in place rigorous means as far as policing the country’s borders is concerned.
He said borders such as the Songwe border “should have alert police and immigration patrols” throughout the day, especially during this era of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to our findings, once intercepted by police, illegal immigrants face fines of up to K25 000 before they are handed over to the immigration department for deportation.
But “the immigration department just ensures that these people are out of Malawian territory, and is not necessarily that they are sent back to their home countries,” Livason told IRIN.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :