The 29 were arrested on Monday by Immigration Department officers at Ekwendeni Trading Centre in Mzimba District following a tip-off from members of the public.The police also netted a Malawian driver Stainly Mbonekela, who is suspected to have aided the illegal immigrants by hiding then underneath the trailer of his truck. Other three local suspected aiders are currently on the run.“When we got the tip that a certain truck was carrying illegal immigrants going towards Mzuzu City, we immediately mounted a road block at Ekwendeni where we started to search all trucks leading to Mzuzu,” said Northern Region Repatriation Officer of the Immigration Department, Demobly Banda.
“It was at around 2:00 in the morning of Monday when we finally intercepted these Ethiopians packed underneath the trailer of truck registration number CK 4389.”
The driver (Mbonekera) told the police that he found the Ethiopian immigrants at Chiweta area in Rumphi District.
“He then decided to carefully hide them underneath the trailer, while some were craftily hidden in unventilated cabin underneath the trailer after laying some few plunks and mats before piling them one after the other,” Banda reported
“Unfortunately after arresting these Ethiopians, the three Malawians managed to escape with handcuffs right there in Ekwendeni because the number of those arrested was very big compared to officers who were there at the time of the arrests.”
In a separate interview with Mana, one of the arrested Ethiopians, Dan Thandesa, said they had started off from Ethiopia about a month and half ago, travelled through Kenya and Tanzania and then used uncharted routes to enter Malawi.
“We can’t afford to have food in our country as there are heavy rains there, so that’s why we thought of coming to Malawi.
“We have heard through the Radio and Television that there is a camp in Lilongwe where refugees stay and this is why we were going that direction,” said Thandesa, sobbing and looking tired.
Meanwhile, the 29 Ethiopians will be taken to court to answer charges of illegal entry while the Malawian driver will answer the charge of aiding entry of illegal immigrants into the country.
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