Shoprite Truck Implicated in Zambia Immigration Bust

April 22, 2024
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ZAMBIA | The Luangwa Immigration Office caught 50 undocumented Ethiopians aged between 14 and 35 for illegally entering and staying in the country. Additionally, they apprehended two Zambians, Blessing Tembo (28) from Lusaka’s Garden House and Benson Mfula (32) from Petauke District, for assisting the Ethiopians. The arrest took place at approximately 14:00 hours on Sunday, 21st April 2024, about one kilometre from the Luangwa Bridge. The group was traveling in a UD Croner Truck with registration number CAA 4229, owned by Freshmark, the fruit and vegetable distribution arm of Shoprite Holdings.

A concerned citizen alerted the Luangwa Office after spotting a Shoprite-branded truck suspected of carrying illegal immigrants, accompanied by a Silver Toyota Corolla with registration number ALE 5181. Acting on the tip-off, the officers located the truck and requested the driver, Blessing Tembo, to open the container, which he eventually did after an initial refusal. Inside the container, they found the 50 Ethiopians and Benson Mfula; no other items were present in the truck, and the Silver Toyota Corolla was not at the scene.

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All suspects are currently in custody at Luangwa Police Station awaiting prosecution. The Department plans to charge the two Zambians with aiding and abetting, and the Ethiopians with illegal entry and unlawful stay. The UD Croner Truck has been seized and is parked at Luangwa Police Station. The Luangwa operation contributed to a total of 142 individuals apprehended for various immigration violations nationwide between 18th and 21st April 2024.

Moreover, during the same period, the Department of Immigration successfully deported 85 illegal immigrants from the country, with 35 deported by the Kabwe Regional Immigration Office on 18th April 2024. Additionally, the Department secured 52 convictions and denied entry to eight individuals who did not meet the entry requirements into Zambia.