The Immigration Department Public Relations Officer Joseph Chauwa, says no one has been found with the stolen passport in Brazil. Chauwa was reacting to reports that were published in the Malawi media which said a drug trafficker is being held in Brazil while traveling using fake and stolen passports.
The media said the issue of “missing” 250 blank passport booklets is disgracing Malawi in the international community with reports that Brazil has been holding drug traffickers holding the Malawian passports.
The media further reported that the Malawi Embassy in Brazil indicate that the drug dealers who were part of a massive international narcotic syndicate, were not Malawian citizens, but using the passport obtained in fraudulent way. In an exclusive interview with our reporters, Chauwa said the person who has been arrested in Brazil holds a genuine passport. “The passport is genuine, our embassy officials in Brazil have interviewed the person in question and confirmed that she holds Malawian genuine passport,” said Chauwa.
Chauwa said it is not true that criminals are giving Malawi a bad name because of getting false documents and committing crimes because currently no one has been found with the stolen passport. The media reported that a woman named Priscilla Chilombo, with Malawian passport is being held in connection with a suspected drug syndicate.
Issue of missing passport books came to light in Parliament in May this year when Mzimba West MP Harry Mkandawire of People’s Party-raised the issue in Parliament. He told the National Assembly that a Nigerian national, who posed as a Malawian answering to the name Vincent Banda from Mangochi, was arrested after being found using one of the missing passports numbered MW 853507 on his way to London in the United Kingdom (UK). The legislator presented copies of Banda’s travel document.
According to Mkandawire, on December 29 2016 the Department of Immigration received a consignment of passport books from Techno Brain Printers, the supplier of the books, whose quantity was short with one box containing 250 blank passports. Mkandawire claimed that Chief Immigration Officer Masauko Medi went ahead to sign for the less quantity after his stores officer had reportedly refused to do so. The serial numbers of the missing passports were from MW 853501 to 853750.
Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia confirmed knowledge of the issue and the syndicate and told Parliament that the matter was already being investigated. Current reports indicate that the delegation went to South Africa for investigations and that they are now back. But Chauwa said despite the incident of missing passports no one has been caught in Brazil abusing the stolen passport.