The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in conjunction with Malawi Police Service (MPS) has arrested 20 Pakistani nationals and their agents for attempting to enter the country using illegally obtained visas.
The suspects were arrested last Sunday after landing at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe and are being kept at Lilongwe Police Station awaiting transfer to Maula Prison, according to ACB senior public relations officer Egrita Ndala.
“Investigations into the case are ongoing. They will be taken to court in due course,” said Ndala in a statement yesterday.
The arrest is a continuation of a probe the ACB launched into allegations of connivance among public officers in allowing foreigners to use the country as a transit route to other southern African countries.
Reads the statement in part: “The bureau is urging all Malawians to desist from assisting foreigners to illegally enter the country as that is a threat to the security of our country and its neighbours.”
ACB has been investigating a syndicate that is facilitating issuance of illegal visas to immigrants who capitalise on laxity and inefficiency in processing the travel and citizenship documents at the Immigration and Citizenship Services Department.
Between August and September this year, the graft-busting body arrested about 15 Asians who also attempted to enter the country using fake visas.
According to ACB, the illegal operation involves officers from the Immigration and Citizenship Services, Malawi Police Service (MPS) and National Intelligence Service (NIS) who connive with wealthy Asians to aid the illegal foreigners.
A Weekend Nation investigation revealed the operation is a lucrative trade as the public officers charge individual illegal foreigners between $1 000 and $5 000 (around K735 000 to K4 million) to enter Malawi through Chileka and Kamuzu international airports, including inland borders, mostly Songwe in Karonga.
Last year alone, statistics indicated that the Immigration office registered around 4 000 foreigners from China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India as visitors but only about 400 exited the country.