Four foreign nationals have been arrested by the Fiscal police on Monday in connection with the missing 250 passports at the Immigration Department last year.

Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Cecilia Chazama told Maravi Post on Friday that the arrested are Congolese, Rwandan, Burundian and Nigerian nationals.

“The arrest of the four by Fiscal Police is a huge step forward in busting a ‘syndicate’ that has been targeting the Malawi passport for sale to international criminals,” she said.

A reliable source in the Immigration Department said a foreign national who was found with one of the stolen passports implicated the others as the source of the documents.

The source said a team of investigators from Immigration Department, Malawi Police Service (MPS) and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security went to South Africa and other countries a few months ago to investigate the missing passport booklets numbered MW853501 to MW853750.

National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera however denied to issue a comment on the matter saying it is too early.

But Mzimba West legislator Harry Mkandawire, who during the last sitting of Parliament criticised government’s handling of the matter when it first came up, claimed in an interview that the State was involved in the theft of the booklets.

Mkandawire first raised the alarm in May this year, saying a consignment of passports that Immigration Department received on December 9 2016, from Technobrain, the supplier of the booklets, had one box containing 250 blank passports missing.

He said a stores clerk refused to sign for the consignment, but a senior official signed for it, although a box was missing.

But Principal Secretary for Ministry of Home Affairs Sam Madula, who yesterday also confirmed the arrests, said the Nigerian escaped from the hands of the South African security officers after being interrogated.

“But we had already extracted the information that we needed by the time he disappeared. There was nothing that we could do to extradite him. So, what we know is that he is still in South Africa, but we do not know his whereabouts. However, we are continuing to make arrests from the information that he gave us,” he said.

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