FOURTEEN of the 15 Ethiopians that were arrested while hiding at a homestead in Gwanda have appeared in court facing allegations of entering the country illegally.
Abdi Adem, Habeb Akmei, Tamesgn Nareco, Fakadu Wolebo, Mukamil Nunye, Melkamu Zeleke, Akamqi Dari, Shika Ayamudi, Muhoba Tama, Feeysal Xaahaa, Beradi Kabamn, Dasal Mehde, Mori Abidla and Beradin Batiso were not asked to plead when they appeared briefly before Gwanda Provincial Magistrate, Ms Charity Maphosa facing a charge of contravening Section 11(1) of the Immigration Act Chapter 4:02, entry by evasion. They were remanded in custody to April 22.
Prosecuting, Mr Mncedisi Dube said on a date and time unknown, but between March 1 and March 25, the group entered the country through an unknown port of entry without valid travel documents.
According to the State, the group was intercepted in the early hours of Tuesday following a tip-off from community members in Mawane One Village in Swisha area.
“On 30 March at around 8PM police received information that there was a group of Ethiopian illegal immigrants who were being kept at a homestead in Gwanda. Officers stationed at Guyu Police Station and CID Gwanda went to Nyorovedzo Ndlovu’s homestead on March 31 at around 1AM.
“They found the 15 accused persons sleeping in a spare bedroom while one of their assistants from Zimbabwe only known as Bheki was sleeping in the main bedroom. Bheki bolted out of the bedroom through the window and escaped. The 15 accused persons were arrested and secured at the homestead awaiting screening for Covid-19,” read the papers.
Medical staff from Gwanda Provincial Hospital examined the group and observed that they did not have signs of infection while accused number 15 tested positive for malaria and was taken to hospital where he is admitted.
Due to the communication barrier it was only ascertained that the accused persons were from Ethiopia without valid travel documents but the port of entry which they used could not be established since their Zimbabwean assistant had escaped.
Meanwhile, National police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said they had launched a manhunt for two suspects who reportedly assisted the gang and were on the run. He appealed to members of the public with information that could lead to the arrest of the pair to contact the police.
Asst Comm Nyathi said three of the illegal immigrants had fled from the homestead but were later arrested.
“We have learnt that these Ethiopians were being assisted by two Zimbabweans who are on the run. We have launched a manhunt for them and we appeal to members of the public with information on their whereabouts to contact the police,” he said.
The group was arrested after they had been reportedly hiding at the homestead for a week where they had been left by Ethan Ndlovu a cross border transporter under the care of his friend only identified as Bheki.
The group, which was reportedly headed for South Africa, failed to cross the border last week as it is closed.