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Tanzania trespassers plead not guilty

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Eight Tanzanian nationals who were intercepted in Karonga on allegations of criminal trespass and carrying out a reconnaissance operation without a permit or licence have pleaded not guilty before the Karonga First Grade Magistrate’s Court.

The eight, Briton Mateus Mgaya, Wakisa Elias Mwansangu, Majidi Nkota, Christandusi Ngowi, Ashura Kyula, Martin Guido Ndunguru, Wilbert Mahundi and Rainery Komba were arrested after they were found loitering at Kayerekera Uranium Mine in Karonga in December last year.

A rumour was rife that the group of Tanzanians were state operatives on an espionage mission but Tanzanian authorities dismissed the claims as untrue on one of their trips to collect facts on the arrests.

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During the court session yesterday the suspects led by Kyula pleaded for bail but Magistrate Chakaka Nyirenda denied.

Police spokesperson, Enock Livason, said in an interview that the eight further asked for legal representation as hearing of the matter commences on January 26.

“Criminal Trespass contravenes Section 314 (1) of the Penal Code while Reconnaissance Operation without permit or licence breaches Section 2 of Mines and Minerals Act,” Livason clarified.

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Meanwhile, the eight have been ferried back to Mzuzu Prison as they enter the fourth week on remand.

But in an interesting twist of event a local-based Environmental Rights Bureau, Commons for Ecojustice says there was a conspiracy between two Malawians.

Bureau Advocate Bright Phiri therefore wondered why the two Wavisanga Silungwe and Deo Gama are not on the charge sheet.

“There is correspondence between Silungwe and the group, in which he offered to help the eight on the tour, he promised he would seek clearance from the Ministry of Mines on their behalf which he didn’t, but rather swindled them in turn,” said Phiri.

Phiri said Silungwe is one who booked the group accommodation at the Boma, before they were further blackmailed by a watchman at Kayerekera Uranium Mine who pocketed K20, 000 from the suspects as allowance.

When contacted, Silungwe laughed off the matter and refused to comment further, saying that would be prejudicial to the court proceedings.

Meanwhile, the Commons of Ecojustice joins the case as an interested party and is seeking legal representation for the Tanzanian nationals.

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