20 foreigners nabbed in Chiadzwa

diamond_pannersMUTARE - An operation that was launched by the Department of Immigration last week has nabbed 20 illegal foreign immigrants alleged to be diamond dealers.

The Assistant Regional Immigration Officer in Manicaland Salatiel Mutasa confirmed that most of the arrested immigrants were from Mali and Guinea among other foreign nationals that included Nigeria and Mozambique. Some of them had fake travel documents, passports and marriage certificates.

In an interview Mutasa said: “We have found others with pieces of diamonds and we have since handed them over to the police. We are looking at each and every case thoroughly and we are going to charge those we would have found guilty under the Immigration Act.” It is believed that the arrested illegal immigrants were offering bribes of up to US$10 000 in order to be released.

He said some of the foreigners who were nabbed would be deported. “We have cases where some of the immigrants claimed to be married to Zimbabwean women with whom they were staying with, but further investigations have revealed that they did not have marriage certificates,” said Mutasa. He added that it was not automatic that someone becomes a permanent resident of Zimbabwe by marrying a Zimbabwean. Mutasa said the Immigration Department was empowered by the Amendment Number 8 of 200 to the Marriages Act to monitor all marriages of convenience.

“We are intensifying our operations to rid the country of all illegal immigrants,” said Mutasa. He also pointed out that the department of immigration was not only targeting foreigners illegally dealing in precious minerals, but all those who were illegally staying in the country as they were a security threat. “We want to remind Zimbabweans that it is an offense to harbour or aid illegal immigrants under the provisions of the Immigration Act. We appeal to foreigners whose papers are not in order to approach our nearest offices for assistance to avoid being caught during the course of our raids,” he said.

There has been an influx of foreigners in Mutare since the discovery of diamonds in Chiadzwa in 2006. There are many foreigners who are cohabiting with local women.

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