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MDF Defends Move to Detain Cross Boarder Traders

Mzuzu, September 17, Mana: The Malawi Defence Force (MDF) has defended their actions in which they detained five buses ferrying cross border traders who were alleged to have under declared their imported goods.

The move comes after various quarters in the country questioned MDF’s decision to detain the traders as it is perceived as not in their mandate.

But in an interview on Thursday at MRA offices in Mzuzu when MDF handed over the detained goods to MRA, Brigade Commander 101 Brigadier Okomataani Mambo, said it is within MDF mandate to complement  sister security entities to seal gaps when need arises.

“As a government security entity, we always complement our sister security entities like MRA, Police, Immigration Department and Prison, where there are gaps, and the check point at Chilumba has been there for quite some time,” he said.

Mambo said it is part of their duties to hold check points and if they come across contraband or apprehend illegal immigrants or any illegal goods, they hand them over to the right security entity like police to do rightful processes.

He said the detained goods have been handed over to MRA to be processed as they are not mandated to process them.

He expressed concern that Northern Region has so many uncharted routes which are used to smuggle goods and let in illegal immigrants.

On concerns raised by some detained traders that they were ill-treated after the detention, Brigadier Mambo downplayed the concern, saying it was the traders themselves who were not cooperative.

In a separate interview, Northern Region Flexible anti- Smuggling Manger, Rosemary Liwande,   said MRA works hand in hand with Malawi Defence Force to curb the smuggling of goods in the country.

She said the value of the detained goods is not known as other traders are yet to go and claim their goods to be charged and that the detained goods are ones that did not have proof of duty payment.

“What will happen is that we will contact owners of the goods as they have names and contact numbers inscribed, and we will together open the parcels and calculate how much to be paid,” she said.

Liwande added that MDF has a check point at Chilumba while MRA has one at Chitimba. The two complement each other.

She urged cross border traders to cooperate with MDF at their check point, just like they do with MRA officials because they are both agencies of government and complement government efforts.

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