51 Ethiopian nationals have been rescued by the Mbala Immigration Office in a suspected case of human trafficking enroute to South Africa.
After travelling for four months in containerized trucks the ‘journey to the promised land’ for the Ethiopians came to an end after the Mbala Immigration Officers launched a man hunt for the Ethiopians after a tip off about these immigrants.
Immigration Public Relations Officer Namati Nshinka stated that the Immigration Officers apprehended 49 of the 51 Ethiopians on Saturday, 30th July 2022, after receiving information of some Ethiopians captured at Senka Village, which is about 140 kilometers from Mbala Central Business District, as they were heading to Nakonde using the Mbala – Nakonde road.
Mr Nshinka stated that during preliminary interviews with the Forty-Nine (49) Ethiopians, the Immigration Officers were informed that some unknown people had recruited the Ethiopians, luring them with promises of jobs in South Africa.
He added that the Ethiopians revealed that they left Ethiopia four months ago and embarked on the daunting perilous journey where they were passing through forest thickets, being fed every three days, and later transported in a containerized truck.
Mr Nshinka cited that the Immigration Officers were told by the Ethiopians that after they reached Senka and Tefwa Villages, an armed man forced them to ask for money from relatives via phone, and failure to which they would not proceed to South Africa.
“Two (02) other Ethiopians narrated a similar ordeal,” he said
He added that the Immigration Officers rushed to the scene but initially failed to locate the said Ethiopians because of inconsistent and incoherent information from the informants, a possible indication that they had either been compromised or threatened.
Mr Nshinka however noted that the investigations revealed that the suspected Prohibited Immigrants were still in Senka Village, prompting the Officers to conduct a door-to-door search for the suspects until they found Twenty-Three (23) undocumented Ethiopians locked in a room of a house whose unknown owner was absent at the time the search was being carried out.
He highlighted that following another lead, the Officers found Twenty-Six (26) more Ethiopians at Tefwa Village, bringing the number to Forty-Nine (49), and two days later, on 2nd August 2022, two (02) Ethiopians were apprehended after they entered Zambia through Lumi Border illegally, hence bringing the total number of Ethiopians intercepted to Fifty-One (51).
Meanwhile, the Mbala Immigration Office has also detained three (3) Zambians to assist with investigations, as the investigations in these cases are still ongoing.