BY REBECCA CHIMJEKA:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has confirmed that a Malawian woman is serving a seven-year jail sentence in Ethiopia after being found in possession of dangerous drugs.
Additionally, three more Malawian ladies have started appearing in court in Ethiopia over drug trafficking-related cases.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson, Rejoice Shumba, told The Daily Times in an interview Thursday that government thinks that the convicts were either duped or coerced into the illicit trade by foreign nationals, particularly men, with promises of monetary rewards, better life and sometimes even marriage.
In a statement released earlier, the ministry said it was concerned about the increased incidents of Malawians, mostly young women, who are being detained and arrested on drug trafficking offences.
“In the past month, two young Malawian ladies were recently arrested at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for trafficking dangerous drugs and are currently in detention awaiting trial. And another Malawian woman is serving a seven-year jail sentence in an Ethiopian prison,” statement said.
The statement further said women are serving various sentences in India and Latin America.
Shumba said accounts from the arrested women indicate that the drug dealers approached the Malawians while posing as businesspersons trading in products such as cosmetics, artificial hair and other items and have taken the unsuspecting women on business trips to places such as India, Brazil and West African countries.
She said the traffickers deal in dangerous drugs including cocaine, heroin and other dangerous narcotic substances.
In the process, the victims (Malawian women) are made to carry luggage (sealed or otherwise) concealing drugs when passing through airport security check points, ending up being arrested.
The ministry has since appealed to Malawians to be vigilant and not to fall prey to fraudsters whenever they are approached by foreign nationals for business ventures that involve travelling to countries abroad to deliver luggage or parcels to unknown contacts.
It has further urged people travelling not to accept to carry any luggage suggested to them by people they do not know, especially those they meet in airports and other public places.
“The ministry is advising parents and guardians of Malawian students studying abroad are encouraged to ensure that their children and students are adequately warned and informed of this development and risk. The Ministry is also Reminding Malawians that drug trafficking is a serious offence which carries heavy penalties including death sentence in some countries.
“It is, therefore, everyone’s duty to report to the authorities whenever they notice or meet suspicious people indulging in business dealings that do not conform to the expectationsof operating legitimate businesses in Malawi,” the statement said.
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