Court jails hosts to 83 illegal migrants

27Feb 2021
The Guardian
Court jails hosts to 83 illegal migrants

A COURT here has sentenced two Tanzanians to 23 years in prison after finding them guilty of hosting and facilitating movement of 83 undocumented foreigners.

Reading the sentence here yesterday, Resident Magistrate Mwanakombo Mmanya sent Julius Shija, a resident of Bagamoyo to 20 years in prison after the prosecution proved that he was found hosting 16 of the migrants at his house last month.

His alleged accomplice, Eliah Lekule, a resident of Arusha, was sentenced to three years in jail after he was found guilty of facilitating the movement of some migrants at Bagamoyo.

The court heard that Lekule was arrested while assisting two of the foreigners to move from Bagamoyo bust stand towards the city of Dar es Salaam.

But Shija can regain his freedom by paying 20m/- in fines, the court ruled.

The magistrate also handed each of the 83 foreigners to spend two years in jail or pay 500,000/- in fines. The convicted foreigners are from Ethiopia (81), Somalia (1) and Malawi (1).

Earlier, a prosecutor form the Immigration Department in Coast region told the court that the undocumented foreigners were arrested on diverse dates in the past two months in Bagamoyo district with the two hosts in their company.

The Regional Immigration Officer, Paul Eranga warned bus owners facilitating the movement of foreigners without tipping off authorities, after the sentences were handed out.

 Facilitating movement of illegal migrants is not only aiding but abating crime which by itself is a criminal offence, he declared.

Recent statistics show that the Horn of Africa nation of Ethiopia leads the pack with its residents caught regularly in Tanzania while trying to cross to southern African countries. Many of them have used the route to reach South Africa despite the considerable likelihood of being arrested and face years in jail.

Las month, President John Magufuli pardoned and ordered the release of 1,789 Ethiopian illegal migrants who are in Tanzanian jails.

Their release was prompted by discussions and accord between the president and his visitor, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde who was on a short visit at the president’s Chato residence.

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