- Private security guards issuing border passes
- Demand money per documents
Private security guards are doing the work of Immigration officers at a border post in Chikwawa, Weekend Nation has established.
But Immigration Department national spokesperson Joseph Chauwa said no private company or individual is authorised to issue the border pass.
The guards, who wear Kamu Guard Services (KGS) uniforms, operate from Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) offices at Chikombe Border Post, from where we witnessed them issue travel documents bearing the tax collector’s stamps.
Weekend Nation went to Chikombe via Mwanza-Zobue borders.
The guards make people pay up to K500 for border passes that are produced outside the Immigration system, yet the papers are supposed to be free of charge.
KGS has a contract with MRA for guarding services, according to a senior officer at the tax collecting agency.
In trying to investigate if the squalid border passes issued by security guards are valid, we obtained one issued by Immigration officers at Mwanza border through Zobue in Mozambique to Chikombe in Chikwawa.
Then from Chikombe to Mwanza we also obtained a border pass, which was issued by people in KGS regalia carrying an MRA stamp. We paid K500, but the guards did not issue a receipt.
With the MRA stamped border pass issued by a guard, we were first cleared by Mozambique police officers at Elijah, indicating that foreign jurisdictions recognise the travelling documents.
The Immigration Department and its parent Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security expressed shock at the Chikombe scandal this week.
Chauwa said in circumstances where there are no Immigration officers, Malawi border police have the authority to issue and check border passes.
“Are you serious that these private security guards are issuing border passes on behalf of Immigration? This is news to me and as far as I know, Immigration officers and sometimes border police have the authority to issue these documents and not security guards,” said Chauwa.
However, he said the Chikombe border is seasonal and people using it are in transit.
He further said sometimes there are some internal arrangements which are followed just to make things work.
“I believe there is a good reason for that [security guards issuing border passes], they are there to assist. They know who to give and not to give. I don’t think they can issue border pass to someone speaking English only,” added Chauwa, who referred Weekend Nation to MRA, saying the matter is to do with MRA and KGS.
Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia said she had learnt from Weekend Nation “with great shock” that security guards are issuing border passes in Chikwawa.
“Ooh no! Are you serious? This is news to me. There is a risk that they can offer border passes to people coming from risky countries, which we don’t allow them. That is very bad and shocking. I am hearing for the first time. We will try to follow up. This is a very serious issue,” said the minister.
She wondered why the private security guards are given this authority yet government has police officers. She further said private security guards and even MRA officers have no authority to issue border passes.
KGS managing director Charles Kanyoza said he is not aware that his security guards are involved in issuing border passes.
He said when the guards are hired, they work under the supervision of the hiring company.
In this case, he said, MRA is responsible to answer any issue concerning the guards. He said he is only aware that his security guards are guarding MRA premises.
“Let me first check the agreement we signed with MRA, but I doubt if there is anything in the contract that our security guards should be issuing border passes. And I know this is illegal. If they are issuing border passes, you should ask MRA,” said Kanyoza whose company was registered in Blantyre on February 13 2008 with business certificate number 105656.
MRA head of corporate affairs Steven Kapoloma confirmed that the agency has a guarding contract with KGS, but asked for more time to check why the MRA official stamps find their way into the hands of Kamu Guards, which they are using in issuing border passes. n