Over 300 traders and passengers, who were on five buses that were coming from Tanzania into Malawi, were on Tuesday evening detained by Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers for more than 12 hours along the M1 Road near Chilumba barracks in Karonga District.
According to our sources, the soldiers detained the group for under-declaration of imports to the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA).
One of the traders, Nadia Maluwa, told The Daily Times that the buses were detained from around 11pm despite all the traders producing MRA receipts for their merchandise.
“We are wondering why MDF could carry out such an exercise without any officials from MRA; more so discredit receipts that were issued by the MRA itself. This is a deserted place, without toilets, shops, water. As such, it is unfair to hold on to us for no reason,” Maluwa said.
However, MDF spokesperson Major Emmanuel Mlelemba said it is within the MDF’s jurisdiction to mount roadblocks to perform checks for security reasons.
He said MDF intercepted only those that were passing through the roadblock with undeclared goods.
“We cannot determine the worth of the undeclared goods; that can best be done by MRA. All impounded goods are handed over to MRA for payments to be made,” Mlelemba said.
Our sources indicate that MRA officials approached the scene and were engaged in closed-door discussions with MDF personnel before a resolution was made.
The five buses and passengers were taken, under military escort, to MRA offices in Mzuzu City, where another check was expected to be conducted.
There was no immediate comment from MRA representatives on the matter.