4-08-2022 – The Mbala Immigration Office is holding fifty-one (51) Ethiopian nationals in a suspected case of human trafficking. The Officers apprehended Forty-nine (49) of the fifty-one (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.
The Immigration 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. However, 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. Following another lead, the Officers found Twenty-Six (26) more Ethiopians at Tefwa Village, bringing the number to Forty-Nine (49). Two days later, on 2nd August 2022, two (02) Ethiopians were apprehended after they entered Zambia through Lumi border illegally, bringing the total number of Ethiopians intercepted to Fifty-One (51).
During preliminary interviews with the Forty-Nine (49) Ethiopians, the 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. 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 (02) other Ethiopians narrated a similar ordeal. Meanwhile, the Mbala Immigration Office has detained three (3) Zambians to assist with investigations. Investigations in these cases are ongoing.