Maputo — The Mozambican police have detained 24 illegal Malawian immigrants, in the southern province of Inhambane, according to a report on the independent television station, STV.
The 24 were in a bus with Malawian number plates. They told reporters they were trying to reach South Africa, because “life is difficult” in Malawi, and they believed they would be better off in South Africa.
Some of them jumped the border, while others had assistance, presumably from Mozambican officials, to cross at the Zobwe border post, between Malawi and Tete province.
According to one of the migrants, those who jumped the border had help from local people involved in the racket. They take the migrants by motor-bike to a nearby village, where the bus stopped to pick them up.
Once in Tete, the Malawians still had a journey of some 2,000 kilometres through central and southern Mozambique before reaching the South African border. In an attempt to deceive the Mozambican authorities, they caught a bus that was also carrying Malawians who had entered the country legally.
According to Rosangela Vilanculo, an official of the Inhambane Provincial Immigration Directorate, there were 76 people on board the bus, all of them Malawians. When the bus reached a checkpoint in Govuro district, an immigration brigade checked the documents of each of the travellers.
52 of them had documents in order and had crossed the Malawi/Mozambique border legally. The other 24 had not passed through immigration control at the border – indeed, two of them did not even have passports.
The 24 were taken to the provincial immigration department to explain how they had entered the country. They will then be sent back to Malawi on the same bus.
The public prosecutor’s office in Inhambane has expressed concern about illegal migration and people trafficking in the province. Given its geographical location, Inhambane is frequently used as a corridor for people wanting to enter South Africa illegally.