MALAWI, SOUTHERN AFRICA — Twelve Ethiopians believed to have been illegally crossing into the country via Lake Malawi from Tanzania were dumped in the lake after dying of hunger, police have said quoting the other immigrants.
About 106 Ethiopians set off for Malawi on boats in what is a sign of desperation to get out of Ethiopia and arrive in Malawi but only 94 were intercepted by police at Sanga in Nkhata Bay Monday night.
“The dead bodies were dumped in the lake randomly as they did not die at the same time,” said Nkhata Bay police spokesperson Martin Bwanali in an interview on Tuesday.
He said the 94 Ethiopians have been charged with illegal entry into the country contrary to Section 21(36) of the Immigration Act, and that figure takes the number of illegal entrants arrested around the area to 183 over the past week.
He said police have also arrested a Malawian identified as 36-year-old William Banda from Chanthomba Village in TA Mankhambira’s area on suspicion that he has been coordinating movement of the illegal entrants by providing them with information on security presence on docking areas.
“Our investigations indicate that the boat the group was travelling on was dumped on the lake after those operating them got information that police officers were waiting for them in the area,” added Bwanali.
“We arrested Banda and told him to keep telling the group to dock but they responded by saying that they had information that he had been arrested. The transporters dumped them and are believed to have returned to Tanzania.”
He said the group was met by some fishermen who noticed that the group could not converse in English or any local language and pulled their boat to land.
Banda has been charged with aiding and abetting human trafficking.
Police say most the Ethiopians immigrants are now taking advantage of Tukombo’s closeness to the hills and the lake which allows them to quickly get into the bushy hills after docking. Police arrested 89 of them in the area last week.