Zimbabwe court fines 21 illegal Malawian migrants, deportations ordered

HARARE – Twenty-one illegal migrants from Malawians intercepted in Shamva on September 4 whilst on their way to South Africa were fined Z$10,000 (US$17) on Wednesday and ordered deported.

The 21, appearing at the Harare Magistrates Court, were convicted on charges of illegal entry and failure to produce valid passports.

Harare magistrate Tafadzwa Miti fined them Z$10,000 each, or alternatively 10 days in prison. He also ordered that they be deported at the end of their sentence, sparing them a further prison sentence of two months which was wholly suspended.

The court heard that the group was intercepted by police officers from Headlands Police Station, acting on a tip-off, at the Shamva toll gate aboard a 3 Star Coaches bus which was travelling from Malawi to Harare. The bus crew produced 21 passports, but none belonging to the passengers.

Mandirasa Chigumira, for the prosecution, said the group allegedly led by ringleader Connex Isladge, 26, was denied entry at the Nyamapanda Border Post. Instead of going back to Malawi, they used an illegal point of entry into Zimbabwe. Their final destination was South Africa.

When intercepted at around 8.30PM on September 4, the travellers “failed to produce valid permits or documents authorising them to be in the country leading to their arrest,” said Chigumira.

Zimbabwe, with its porous borders and notoriously corrupt officials, is a major transit point for illegal migrants from the north seeking a better future in South Africa. Some of the migrants, particularly those from Ethiopia, are reportedly “sold” to uncouth businessmen in South Africa who use them as cheap labour.

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