6 people denied bail for aiding entry of iIlegal immigrants

The Mzuzu Senior Resident Magistrate Court on Thursday denied bail to six people suspected of aiding illegal entry of 141 immigrants of Ethiopian, Bangladesh and Pakistan origins.

The suspects are Lovemore Banda 42, Edward Chitsime 48, Dickson Dzoole 33, Jonas Kanyenda (28), Farayi Chilomba 29, and 32 year-old Sylass Wadala.

Police prosecutor, Betty Msowoya told the court that four of the suspects were arrested on April 22, 2022 at Kafukule in Mzimba district following a tip from community members and two of them were later arrested in Karonga and Chitipa respectively.

“They were arrested for being suspected of having aided illegal entry of 134 Ethiopians, six Bangladeshis and one Pakistanis into the country,” said Msowoya.

She said the suspects were then taken to Mzuzu Police Station where they were charged with aiding illegal entry of immigrants an offence which is contrary to Section 36 (1) (a) of the Immigration Act (Cap 15: 03) of the Laws of Malawi.

Msowoya said the suspects attempted to resist arrest but police had to use tear gas and gunshot to have them arrested.

All the six suspects pleaded not guilty of the offense and the state pledged to parade five witnesses as the trial continues.

Lawyer for the suspects, Christon Ghambi of Chram Associates Film prayed for the court to grant bail to the suspects saying they (suspects) have been in police custody for more than a week.

 “My clients are suspects not convicts, until court finds them guilty. Even in murder cases, suspects are given a bail,” Ghambi said.

He added that the suspects are bread winners for their families, and their dependents would suffer severely should they be in police custody for long.

In his ruling, Senior Resident Magistrate Ashford Harawa said court bail is a right for everyone adding that court sometimes take into account issues such as the kind of the offense, how the suspects were arrested and how frequent the suspects have been committing similar offences to determine its final verdict.

“According to the state, for the suspects to be apprehended, police had to use   tear gas and gunshots and I am doubtful that the suspects will be available for trial.

In this case, the court finds that the aggravating factors of the offense outweigh the mitigating factors by far. The suspects will remain in police custody and anyone who is not satisfied with the ruling can appeal to the high court,” said Harawa.

Banda hails is of Malindi Village in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Sitola in Machinga District, as Chitsime hails from Tumbi Village in the area of TA Kayembe in Dowa District while Dzoole comes from Kazombo Village in the area of TA Mkhumba in Phalombe District.

Kanyenda and Chilomba are of Kayunga and Mwahimba villages respectively, all in the area of Paramount Chief Kyungu in Karonga District while Wadala hails from Imfayatonse Village in the area of TA Mkukula in Dowa District.

The case has since been adjourned to 1 May 18, 2022.