Malawi Police in Karonga has confirmed that on Saturday they shot a Toyota Coaster registration KA 3599 carrying illegal immigrants and then arrested 61 Ethiopians on board.
Police shot the vehicle’s left rear and front tyres to force the driver to stop. The Toyota Coaster is licensed to carry 24 passengers by overloaded with 61 Ethiopians who were arrested on spot but the driver ran away.
Karonga Police Station spokesperson Enock Livason said Police are yet to identify the driver, but the vehicle is said to belong to Jeremiah Luka of Lunzu in Blantyre.
Livason explained that the minibus was coming from Songwe border heading to Karonga Boma and it was intercepted at North Rukuru Roadblock where the driver tried to beat a security check.
The Ethiopians have been charged with the offence of illegal entry and are expected to appear before court soon.
Authorities in Malawi are stepping up efforts to crack down on criminal syndicates that are aiding influx of illegal immigrants from Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
While Malawi shares borders with Zambia, Mozambique, police records indicate many illegal immigrants find their way into the country through uncharted routes through the hills of northern Karonga district, which borders Tanzania.
Lawyer George Kadzipatike, who has represented some of those accused of aiding illegal immigrants, says Malawi’s overly lenient anti-immigration are to blame.
“When one has been convicted of aiding and abetting the illegal immigrants, the maximum fine is MK25,000,” he said, adding that people concerned about illegal immigration should lobby parliament for stiffer penalties.