By ALICE NACHILEMBE
The Mbala Immigration Office is holding 51 Ethiopian nationals in a suspected case of human trafficking.
The Officers apprehended 49 of the 51 Ethiopians on Saturday, July 30, 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.
The Immigration Public Relations Officer Namati Nshinka said officers rushed to the scene but initially failed to locate the said Ethiopians due to inconsistent and incoherent information from the informants, a possible indication that they had either been compromised or threatened.
Mr Nshinka said 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 23 undocumented Ethiopians locked in a room of a house whose unknown owner was absent.
He said following another lead, the Officers tracked 26 more Ethiopians at Tefwa Village where, bringing the number to 49.
Mr Nshinka said two days later, on August 2, 2022, two Ethiopians were apprehended after they entered Zambia through Lumi border illegally, bringing the total number of Ethiopians intercepted to 51.
“During preliminary interviews with the 49 Ethiopians, Officers were informed that some unknown people had recruited the Ethiopians, luring them with promises of jobs in South Africa. They revealed that they left Ethiopia four months ago and embarked on the daunting perilous journey to their Promised Land, passing through forest thickets, being fed every three days, and later transported in a containerized truck,” he said.
They told the Officers that when they reached Senka and Tefwa Villages, an armed man forced them to ask for money from relatives via phone, failure to which they would not proceed to South Africa. The two other Ethiopians narrated a similar ordeal,” he said.
He said the Mbala Immigration Office has detained three Zambians to assist with investigations.