Foreign Affairs Minister, Francis Kasaila, has warned Malawians who go to South Africa by road to avoid using the Tete-Beira route in Mozambique.
The alert follows the gunning down of four men who were among 24 Malawians travelling to South Africa on April 23. The attack left three others severely wounded while 17 others returned home on April 30 through Mwanza Border.
Kasaila has also disclosed that Malawi, has asked Mozambique to investigate the killing of the four “innocent Malawians”.
“Along the Tete-Beira route we have had incidences where the government forces have been clashing with the Renamo forces and therefore we should avoid using that route. It is highly insecure and we may be putting our lives in danger and it is important that we should avoid that,” he said.
Kasaila also called upon traditional authorities, government officials and other stakeholders to sensitise their people on the risks of travelling to South Africa on the assumption that they will be employed there.
“In our laws it is illegal to facilitate the travel of these people to South Africa without proper documentation because that is trafficking in persons and it is my belief that our colleagues in the law enforcement section will take appropriate action,” said Kasaila.
But some Malawians accuse government of being reactive on the issue.
They argue that since Malawi has already been bearing the brunt of the crisis, which has seen hundreds of Mozambicans fleeing into the country, a caution to travellers was overdue.
Sam Kalanda of Area 47 in Lilongwe has said that government relaxed too much and only got moved after hearing that four of its people had been killed.
“Of course Mozambique has been maintaining that there is no war in the country but at least, we have seen asylum seekers entering Malawi. That should have compelled government to do something.
“We hear governments warning their citizens against travelling to certain countries because there are conflicts or some other emergency. We even hear of some governments evacuating their citizens from countries where there is war. But so far, we haven’t heard anything that our government is doing something regarding Malawians who are in Mozambique,” said Kalanda.
Many other Malawians who commented on our question on social media echoed Kalanda’s concern. They have since challenged government to do something as quickly as possible so that Malawians in Mozambique are safe.
The attack on the Malawians who were travelling to South Africa happened two days before President Peter Mutharika, Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi and Zambia’s Edgar Lungu met at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe where, among others, they discussed the Mozambique conflict.
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