By Topson Banda.
The Karonga Senior Resident Magistrate Court on Monday sentenced five Pakistanis and three Bangladeshis to six months imprisonment with hard labour for illegal entry.
The convicts have been identified as: Raheer Naem, Shabbir Amed, Abdu Rehman, Adnan Ahmed, Muhammad Abutoha, Anis Dinmuhamm, Kajor Bepare and Saif Ulaha.
The State through Inspector Evance Mtepuka told the court that the convicts together with three others on December 30, 2020 entered through Kaporo roadblock in Karonga without permit.
During court proceedings, the foreign nationals pleaded guilty to the charge of illegal entry. The offence is contrary to section 21(1) as read with section 37(d) of the Immigration Act.
In mitigation, the convicts admitted doing wrong and prayed to the court that they should be repatriated.
Before giving sentence, Senior Resident Magistrate Mateo Fatsani Chitha narrated that the offence which they were answering is punishable with a fine of K25, 000 or twelve months imprisonment.
Magistrate Chitha argued that non-custodial sentence was inappropriate as he observed that this was an organised crime.
Chitha further argued that the court cannot lose sight of the risk posed by people entering Malawi illegally in the light of the COVID-19 as they do not get through the COVID-19 screening process set in the country.
Therefore, the court narrated that the convicts are prohibited immigrants under section 21(3) of the Immigration Act as such they were sentenced to 6 months imprisonment with hard labour with effect from the date of arrest, 30 December, 2020.
The court also ordered that, under section 21(4) of the Immigration Act, the convicts should leave Malawi within fourteen days after serving their custodial term.