Maputo — The Mozambican police on Tuesday announced the detention of a group of 20 illegal immigrants in Gorongosa, in the central province of Sofala.
According to a report in the Beira daily paper "Diario de Mocambique", the group, 15 Pakistanis and five Bangladeshis, were found, travelling in inhuman conditions, inside a Freightliner container truck.
They have been taken to Beira, where they are awaiting repatriation. The Mozambican driver of the truck, Alexandre Jose, was arrested.
The press attaché of the Sofala Provincial Police Command, Mateus Mazive, said that the authorities are investigating how the 20 Asians entered the country. So far they have ascertained that, before reaching Sofala, they had crossed Nampula and Zambezia provinces in another heavy goods vehicles.
"The truck that carried them from Zambezia was seized in Gorongosa town, thanks to a denunciation made by someone who saw a human foot sticking out from a hole in the container", said Mazive. "It was through this hole that the 20 foreigners managed to enter the container".
He added that 12 of the Asians were in poor health because of difficulties in breathing inside the poorly ventilated container.
"From what we know, they travelled for several hours without stopping', said Mazive. "The first place the driver stopped was Gorongosa, where they were all discovered".
The driver told the police that he was to receive 40,000 meticais (about 1,480 US dollars) for transporting the migrants. The money was to be paid by an individual he did not name in Manica province.
"I found these people in Zambezia", Jose said. "I was approached by someone who asked me to take them to Inchope, in Manica, where I was to receive 40,000 meticais for this job".
"It's the first time I've done this sort of business", he claimed. "The truck belongs to a company I work for in Maputo. I went to Nampula on company business, and then I found this job".
"This shows the existence of a people trafficking network", said Mazive. "It's a profitable business that illicitly enriches some people at the expense of the suffering of others. Given the conditions under which those citizens were being transported, some of them might even have died before reaching their destination"..