Police in Mozambique have intercepted 42 illegal Malawian migrants who were in transit to South Africa, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson, Rejoice Shumba, confirmed on Tuesday.
“We are waiting for a report from our mission in Mozambique and the embassy in South Africa. We have been warning Malawians not to travel to South Africa until the situation normalises and that when they travel, they must have proper papers. We do not know whether they were trafficked or it was an agreement that they should be taken to South Africa,” Shumba said.
The Daily Times had asked Shumba about a BBC report that the intercepted Malawians were in a container of a truck.
The report says the Malawians had been travelling in the truck for three days before being intercepted in the capital of Gaza province, Xai-Xai, police spokesman Carlos Macuacua said.
Macuacua told authorities that the Malawians had been assured of employment in South Africa.
Police in South Africa are working with the Mozambique immigration authorities to repatriate them to Malawi, Macuacua told the BBC.
“This is an illegal immigration case. They hold no identity cards and they were being carried in inhumane conditions.
“There’s work still to be done together with the immigration authorities and the national investigation service to find out the true masterminds of this trafficking,” Macuacua is quoted as saying.
The Malawi government repatriated to Blantyre some Malawians who were displaced after xenophobic attacks in Gauteng Province, South Africa, where some locals accuse African immigrants of taking away jobs and selling drugs. The attacks cost property and lives.
Some 133 Malawians were displaced in South Africa but it is not clear if all of them were repatriated. Most Malawians from districts such as Mzimba and Mangochi trek to South Africa looking for greener pastures.
It is estimated that there are 2.2 million foreigners translating to four percent of South Africa’s 55 million population.
Peter Kanjere is a versatile Journalist currently working for Times Group as Assistant Editor for The Daily Times.
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