Maputo — Chimoio (Mozambique), 9 Jul (AIM) - The Mozambican police have arrested 15 Ethiopians in the central province of Manica, who had entered the country illegally.
According to the spokesperson for the Provincial Immigration Services, Jorge Machava, the group consists of ten women and five men, aged between 17 and 40. They were travelling in a vehicle bearing South African number plates, and intended to cross into Zimbabwe at the Machipanda border post, and then make their way to South Africa.
When the vehicle reached the area of Catandica, in the Manica district of Barue, the police intercepted it. The driver fled, and the 15 Ethiopians were taken for interrogation. Machava said attempts are under way to locate the driver.
Looking at the passports of the Ethiopians, immigration officials concluded they had travelled legally until they reached Malawi. "Then they entered our country illegally", said Machava. "Right now, we are working to see if we can return them to Malawi or even to their country of origin, Ethiopia".
He added that his office is working to prevent foreign citizens from using Mozambique as a corridor to other countries. In the first six months of this year 150 foreigners entering the country illegally were detained in Manica (which compares with 130 detained in the same period of 2018).
"These foreigners regard our country as an easy route for reaching South Africa", said Machava. But the authorities were stepping up their vigilance "and we believe we will succeed".
The preferred route for illegal immigrants, once they have crossed the porous Malawi/Mozambique border is through Tete and Manica provinces to the frontier with Zimbabwe.