Mist surrounds the immigration status of a SriLankan man identified as Wijaya Rupage Anura Jayawardena who was allegedly operating business in Malawi without a business resident permit (BRP) as required by the Immigration Department.
This development comes after a BRP that allowed him to operate business in Malawi was withdrawn from him and given to its rightful owner after it was learnt that Jayawardena misrepresented facts to the Immigration Department and had his brother’s (business partner) BRP reference number 46 988 renewed but endorsed with his passport.
Jayawardena runs Techno Automotives Limited, situated along the Maselema Road in Blantyre, which sells automobiles, auto spares, tyres, tubes, windscreens and auto services.
According to Wajiyarupage Asoka Kumara Dhanapala, the brother whose BRP was taken, came to Malawi in 1996 and obtained a BRP, subject to renewal after every five years that allowed him to operate business in the country.
Dependents on his BRP included his wife Enoka Dhanapala and his brother Jayawardena.
Dhanapala claimed in an interview that he temporarily left Malawi in 2007 for SriLanka together with his wife and left the business under the care of his brother, Jayawardena, and gave him instructions to submit his BRP renewal forms which were duly completed to the Immigration Department in 2011.
“When I inquired from him if he had renewed my Business Residence Permit, he was not giving convincing answers. When I was asking how my business was fairing, he kept on giving me negative answers which made me sense something was amiss.
“Then I inquired from my Malawian friends to check on my brother and they told me he is doing quite well and the business is going in the right direction. My friends reports confirmed my fears that my brother is hiding something from me and so I started making preparations to come back to Malawi right away, this early 2014,” claimed Dhanapala.
He alleged that when he contacted the Immigration Department for a visa, the department told him that his brother wrote the department, advising them not to issue him a visa claiming he was involved in some criminal activities.
“I explained to [an officer] of the Immigration’s permit office that I am not into any criminal activities and indicated to him that I have stayed in Malawi for over 10 years operating my business normally and that I want to come back to Malawi to process issues to do with my BRP,” he alleged.
When a visa was granted to him and he came back to Malawi, Dhanapala said he went to Immigration where for his BRP file was at first reported missing.
He said after a thorough check, the file was produced and he had the shock of his life to see his brother’s face and passport details on his BRP.
The BRP, which Weekend Nation has seen, has Dhanapala’s name as a holder while the face and the passport details on it are Jayawardena’s and it was authorised by former chief immigration officer Elvis Thodi on March 19 2012 after a payment of K500 000.
Dhanapala, after noting the irregularities that his BRP contained, was advised to write the current chief immigration officer Hudson Mankhwala to explain.
Dhanapala also said he reported the matter to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
According to documents Weekend Nation has seen, Jayawardena sought an injunction on September 25, restraining the Immigration Department from deporting him until a further order of the court or final resolution of the matter, claiming he applied for a new BRP in his name but it was the Immigration Department that made a mistake.
However, on October 8 2014, Judge Dorothy Kamanga of the High Court in Blantyre dismissed Wijaya Rupage Anura Jayawardena’ injunction.
Among other things, the court found out that Jayawardena did not approach the court with clean hands as he gave false testimonies because the exhibit he gave, claiming it was a new application for a business resident permit was actually an application for renewal of an existing permit.
When contacted to explain the mist surrounding Jayawardena’s stay and operations in the country, Mankhwala said he is aware of the BRP issue but he requested for more time to check the files.
Further efforts to get the department’s side of the story proved futile as Mankhwala’s phone went unanswered on several occasions.
The ACB said they are aware of Dhanapala’s case and that the bureau indeed investigated the case.
“The case was concluded and sent to the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions] that time who took over the case from the bureau,” said ACB senior public relations officer Egrita Ndala in an e-mailed response.
However, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs spokesperson Apoche Itimu said the DPP’s office does not remember receiving the case from the ACB and asked for clarification from the bureau on the exact dates when the case was referred to her office for a thorough search.
When contacted for his side of the story on Monday, Jayawardena refused to comment.
But Jayawardena’s wife called this reporter, saying if she wants any information, she should contact the family’s lawyer.
The wife added that the reporter cannot write the story because the matter is no longer in the hands of the Immigration or court but rather was being handled at the ministry level.
The lawyer had not yet answered our questionnaire sent to him on Thursday on Jayawardena’s stay, business operations and the ministry’s involvement on the issue as we went to press. n