The Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) in conjunction with the Malawi Police Service arrested 20 people from Pakistan and their Pakistani agents in the cpuntry amidst reports of systemic corruption in Malawi's immigration department, involving the alleged issuing of fraudulent travel documents, work permits and citizenship rights to non-nationals in return for backhanders.
In a brief statement made available to Nyasa Times, ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala said the 20 Pakistani nationals were arrested on November 4 2018 " after they entered Malawi through Kamuzu International Airport using illegally obtained visas."
The statement said: "This is a continuation of investigations by the Bureau on allegations of connivance among public officers in allowing foreigners to use the country as a transit route to other countries."
The Pakisatni nationals are being kept at Lilongwe Police Station awaiting remand to Maula Prison, according to the statement.
ACB said they will be taken to Court in due course.
"Investigations into the case are ongoing."
The Bureau is urging all Malawians to report any such immigrants to ACB and desist from assisting foreigners to illegally enter the country as that is a threat to the security of our country and its neighbours.
The fraudulent issuing of travel documents, mainly, it is alleged, to Pakistani nationals, has a direct bearing on South Africa.
Sources in the department said many illegal immigrants are using corruptly obtained transit visas to cross into Mozambique en route to South Africa, their ultimate destination.
The sources said the standard bribe for a fraudulent transit visa was in the range of $1,500 to $2,000 The transit visa allows travellers to pass through Malawi to another country and is valid for seven days.
"Under normal circumstances, foreigners transiting through Malawi are supposed to get their visas from Malawian embassies in their countries of residence or the nearest country with diplomatic relations with Malawi," said one source.
In Asia, Malawi only has diplomatic relations with Japan, India and the People's Republic of China.
There has been of spate of arrests of immigration officials at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe and Blantyre's Chileka International Airport in connection with the alleged fraudulent issuing of work permits and travel documents.