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Immigration raids business premises

ON SITE— Malawi Police Service agents at Build Africa premises in Blantyre

James Kadadzera

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services, with the help of Malawi Police Service (MPS) agents, Sunday stormed business premises, where over 130 foreigners were arrested in a nationwide sweeping exercise aimed at purging illegal immigrants.

Immigration Department national spokesperson Joseph Chauwa said the exercise, which started on Sunday, targeted foreigners that are staying and working in the country without necessary papers and those with fake residence permits.

The Daily Times has learned that, so far, 38 people have been netted in the Northern Region, 56 in the Central East Region and 36 in the Southern Region City of Blantyre.

The number of those nabbed is likely to rise as Immigration Department and MPS agents raid premises and locations in Lilongwe City, Central Region, this morning.

MPS spokesperson James Kadadzera, while confirming that police are involved in the exercise, said they were only helping Immigration Department officials in terms of arresting suspects as well as keeping them in custody.

“For an explanation as regards what the operation is all about, and the charges, contact the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services,” he said.

On Sunday, officials from the two State agencies raided residential houses in Limbe and Blantyre Central Business District— both in Blantyre— targeting people staying in the country illegally.

On Monday, they raided one of the newly opened shops, Build Africa, in Blantyre, where some workers were arrested for questioning.

One official from Build Africa confirmed to The Daily Times that agents from the two security institutions visited the offices at Kristwick in Blantyre and arrested three people. These are two foreigners with permanent residence permits namely Build Africa Chief Executive Officer Yasin Osman and Warehouse Manager Safwan Patel.

The third suspect is the company’s head of security, Malawian Madalitso Mollen, who was picked for allegedly obstructing Immigration Department and Police officers on duty.

“Initially, immigration officials came to the office and were sent back because they came in without prior notice or showing any paperwork on private property and during shopping hours.

“However, they came again 20 minutes later in the company of armed police officers and arrested the three,” said an official at Build Africa.

Chauwa confirmed that officials visited the said shop but explained that it was not the only target and that the exercise was conducted nationwide.

“This is a general operation targeting people of all nations that are staying in the country illegally. We are checking the residential status of foreigners in this exercise.

“We have arrested those that do not have papers and those with papers that are doubtful. We will have the total number of those arrested at the end of the exercise,” he said.

Malawi is said to be a haven for illegal immigrants who are working and engaged in business, leading to the government losing billions of Kwacha through tax evasion, money laundering and externalisation of foreign currency.

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