The Magistrate court in Nakonde in Northern Province has slapped a two-year suspended prison sentence on an immigration officer after finding him guilty on charges of aiding prohibited immigrants contrary to the Laws of Zambia.
The court has also ordered that the vessel used in transporting the prohibited immigrants, a Toyota Corona car registration number ABP 3015 be forfeited to the state.
Appearing before magistrate John Kajiko Njapau, was Geoffrey Sakala, an immigration officer-in-charge for Mbala district charged with one count of aiding prohibited immigrants contrary to Section 29 (9) (10) as read together with Section 30 (7) of the Immigration Act number 25 of 1997.
It is alleged that on November 14 last year, Sakala was intercepted by the police at Wulongo check point about 7 km from Nakonde border with four prohibited immigrants, namely Kenyan nationals of Somali origin in his Toyota Corona car registration number ABP 3015.
Sakala pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Passing judgment in a packed courtroom, magistrate Njapau said the court was satisfied with the evidence adduced in court by the prosecution witnesses.
Magistrate Njapau said the prosecution team had proved the case beyond any reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offence and is guilty as charged.
He said that he had taken into consideration the mitigation of the accused person who is entitled to leniency being a first offender but that the offence committed was very serious especially that it was committed by a senior security officer who should be in the forefront of protecting the citizens of this country and their property.
“Your duties as an immigration officer demand that you fully scrutinize foreigners entering this country and ensure that they have legal documents and since you failed to carry out your duties diligently, this court has no option but to punish you. This court therefore, has decided to give you a two- year suspended offence on condition that you do not commit a similar offence within the next two years,” said magistrate Njapau.
The magistrate said that the conviction should act as a deterrent to other would- be offenders.
And making a ruling on an application from the Public Prosecutor [PP] Eric Sindandumuna that the vessel used in the transportation of the prohibited immigrants is forfeited to the state in line with the provisions of the Laws of Zambia, magistrate Njapau said the application was granted.
The Magistrate ordered that since it was not in dispute that Sakala’s personal car, a Toyota Corona registration number ABP 3015, was used in committing the offence,it should be forfeited to the state in accordance with the provisions of the Law.
In mitigation, the visibly shaken Sakala said he was suffering from Tuberculosis [TB] and was currently on medication.
Sakala also told the court that he was studying and that he had paid out a lot of money towards his education and would lose out if he was given a custodial sentence. He said he was also looking after his aged mother who would greatly suffer if he was sent to jail.