High Court Judge Howard Pemba has dismissed an application for a judicial review filed by businessmen who claimed to be Malawi nationals, criticizing the claimants for targeting the wrong parties in their lawsuit.
The ruling comes at a crucial time when the government is implementing its notice to relocate all refugees and asylum seekers to Dzaleka.
The applicants sought to halt the Ministry of Homeland Security’s plan to relocate them to Dzaleka Refugee Camp, as well as the removal of a shipping container from the Mgona area in Lilongwe to the National Police Headquarters.
Reacting to the ruling, Minister of Homeland Security Kenneth Zikhale Ng’oma stated that the government will now proceed with its plans to relocate the individuals in question.
He emphasized the government’s commitment to addressing the challenge of illegal immigrants.
“We are glad that the court has agreed with us. The operation is on the move and still ongoing until we get to the bottom of the challenge of illegal immigrants,” Zikhale Ng’oma said.
According to Secretary for Homeland Security (Legal) Steve Kayuni, law enforcement agencies have already seized 134 shipping containers, with the majority belonging to refugees and asylum seekers.
Kayuni highlighted that these containers were being utilized for criminal activities, and many owners were not compliant with tax regulations.
“The containers were being used for criminal offences and that most of the owners’ tax returns were not being followed, hence the government’s decision to impound the containers,” Kayuni said.
On the other hand, Khumbo Soko, the lawyer representing the businessmen, pleaded with the court not to grant the State’s wishes.
Soko argued that the individuals he represents are indeed Malawians with all the necessary documentation for operating their businesses within the country.
He emphasized that the shipping containers in question were being used solely by Malawian entrepreneurs, not refugees or asylum seekers.
“These shipping containers are where they are operating their business. The containers are neither for refugees nor asylum seekers. They are for Malawians. The operation does not concern the government. Disrupting their business is a violation of human rights,” Soko said.
Soko further contended that disrupting their businesses would be a violation of human rights.
Court documents show that the areas of Mgona and Senti in Lilongwe are predominantly populated by foreigners, including refugees and asylum seekers.
These locations are known for their bustling business activities, with shipping containers serving as the primary premises for many entrepreneurs, particularly those from refugee backgrounds.