"Not related to current court injunction on Dzaleka refugees."
Malawi Police Service, in conjunction with the Department of Immigration, on Sunday arrested 158 foreigners who have been illegally living and operating their businesses in the country in various parts of the country.
Confirming the development, national police deputy spokesperson, Peter Kalaya said the suspects have been arrested in both rural and urban areas across the country.
He, however, refuted reports that the exercise is targeting refugees and asylum seekers, who have been ordered to return to their designated Dzaleka Refugee Camp as per law.
The refugees and asylum seekers have since obtained a court injunction stopping the government from relocating them to the Dzaleka camp.
"The operation, which is continuing, aims at ridding out foreigners staying illegally in the country," Kalaya said in his statement released on Tuesday.
Of the 158, 84 have been arrested in the Central Region, 38 in the North and 36 in the South.
Meanwhile, Minister of Homeland Security, Richard Chimwendo Banda has reiterated that the refugees relocation to Dzaleka shall be enforced once the court injunction process is dealt with.
Led by Abdul Nahimana, the refugees obtained the court injunction stopping the Ministry from relocating them to Dzaleka after many of them left the camp to do various businesses in sorrounding communities and away in other regions.
However, Chimwendo insists the stay order by the court is "temporary relief and not a ruling" and thus it was simply a "matter of time" before the refugees returned to where they belong.
In an interview on ZBS's Tiuuzeni Zoona on Sunday monitored by Nyasa Times, Chimwendo said there was no way Malawi was going to "succumb to cheap noise and run like a banana republic."
He said: "Malawians should not despair, they [refugees] will return to where they belong. Malawi signed a document in 1951 on how to manage refugees and that is what we are following.
"There has been a judgment on the same since 2006 as regards their relocation but they keep asking for more time. For this one we have been engaging them since last August and it does not make sense to us that they have been taken unawares."
According to Chimwendo, the relocation of the refugees is to "right a wrong" that has been committed.