Public Relations Officer Namati Nshinka said the suspects were apprehended on Sunday, October 19, 2020 near Kacholola Check Point after a tip-off from alert residents.
Nshinka said this was after the residents spotted them suspiciously travelling on foot in the bush, adding that the actual number of the Ethiopians is believed to have been 26, with 15 reportedly to be on the run.
He said preliminary investigations suggest that the group was travelling from Chipata aboard an unidentified vehicle and that they disembarked the vehicle just before Kacholola Check Point to deliberately circumvent the check-point and later re-embark to continue their journey unabated.
“This is the third suspected human trafficking incident recorded in Nyimba in just over a month, with a total of 55 Ethiopians aged between 13 and 22 years currently being held in Nyimba to assist with investigations.The first incident involved 26 Ethiopians and three Zambians intercepted on a private mini-bus near Kacholola Check Point on September 17, 2020. The Zambians are currently appearing before Court facing human trafficking charges,” Nshinka said.
Meanwhile, Nshika said on October 13, 2020 in Nyimba, 18 Ethiopians were apprehended in yet another suspected human trafficking case as the group was apprehended after the bus they were travelling on careered off the road into a ditch.
He said the Ethiopians were initially 27 but that nine, including the Zambian driver, managed to get away and are still on the run.
“We wish to warn perpetrators of transnational crimes such as human trafficking and smuggling to desist from such evil vices forthwith. Human trafficking in Zambia carries a minimum sentence of 22 years imprisonment.We are aware of the culprits’ methods and should they continue, they will be arrested by our alert, intelligence-led immigration officers. Further, the Department wishes to appeal to members of the public to report any suspicious movements to Immigration,” he said.