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South Africa returnees smell rat on travel documents

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Eisenhower Mkaka

Some unscrupulous public officials, deployed at the Malawi Mission in South Africa, are making a killing out of the ongoing repatriation process by flouting travel document issuance procedures for some Malawians who were residing in that country without proper documentation.

Information sourced by Malawi News from recent returnees indicate that about 200 passengers out of about 571 who left South Africa on 17 October, did not receive receipts after paying R750 each (about K36,750) for the travel documents.

We spoke to a number of people who had this experience and among them is Yamikani Kachingwe, who agreed to go on record, saying some immigration officials are running a syndicate on travel documents.

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“Apparently, the General Consulate had, beforehand, communicated to the Immigration Department that all travel certificates should be issued at the Head Office but yet in Cape Town, a man was selling the documents without receipts and strangely he doesn’t even work for Malawi Embassy, where in the world did he get the certificate book?

“Strangely, even those who bought the certificates at the

Head Office received no receipts. And in Midrand, at around 10 to 11pm, some of the immigration officials stopped the fleet of buses to sell more travel documents but without issuing receipts,” he said.

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Edson James, also claimed he accessed the travel documents from a mere individual and not the embassy.

He said the documents looked valid and legit but he also did not get any receipt for the travel documents he bought.

“It is true, like in my case I did not have a passport, it was stolen because I was attacked at some point and so when I went to buy a ticket at R2300, I had to buy travel documents as well. But all the documents I got did not have receipts and I am not sure if the money was taken to government. But I think it was easy to travel without the receipts, probably because of the lockdown mood,” he said.

Efforts to speak to Malawi’s Deputy High Commissioner Gloria Bamusi, who is currently acting as the High Commissioner, proved futile as she cut the line the moment this reporter introduced herself.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Eisenhower Mkaka said he was not aware of the syndicate and was quick to say his ministry will investigate the matter.

“I am hearing the issue from you I did not know about it. Ideally, it is not supposed to happen like that and my ministry will look into the matter and find out what is happening,” he said.

South Africa is home to thousands of Malawians who migrate there to seek greener pastures. The country is among those that have ordered lockdowns to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Since the lockdown, other Malawians opted to return home and government has been repatriating them since April.

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