20 SA-bound Ugandans intercepted in Byo, appear in court

Twenty Ugandan nationals and a minor were on Saturday arrested along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road after they illegally entered the country reportedly en-route to South Africa.

They appeared in court on Monday facing a charge of contravening section 29(1)(b) as read with section 29(2a) of the Immigration Act Chapter 4:2.

The 20 Ugandans are: Thomson Barisigara (30), Martin Katerega (28), Elizabethy Kisembo (48) Abdul Katumba (44), Habiibu Kiggundu (36), Hamuza Asiimwe (27), Hassan Kagaba (38), Rasul Dalausi (26), George Willy Ochom (26), Shafic Senyange (22), Kasango Umar (27), Adam Kagaba (47), Nakitende Peninah (29), Magezi Gaddafi (38), Alex Kiganda (25), Ramazan Masereka (23), Mugerwa Sulaiman (29), Opio Peter (26), Muzimba Solomon Ssemakula(26) and Kato Derrick Kimera (29).

Bulawayo Provincial Magistrate Tinashe Tashaya sentenced them to 3 months’ imprisonment each, wholly suspended on condition that they do not commit a similar offence in the next five years. 

He ordered that they be deported back to their country of origin. 

“This court takes cognisance of people in transit particularly here in Africa. As the court, we endeavour to protect all persons in transit,” said Magistrate Tashaya. 

Through their legal representatives Nqobani Sithole and Jabulani Mhlanga of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), they pleaded with the court not to be handed a custodial sentence. 

Sithole mitigated that the Ugandans had adhered to all legalities within the first ten days of their journey until they were scammed by someone who said he could help them get to South Africa via Zimbabwe. 

“These nationals cannot get a custodial sentence because they are first offenders. All they did was according to the book from Uganda to Zambia before they fell victim to this scam. They have been on the road for the past ten days and have used up almost all of their coffers,” said Sithole. 

“Please take into cognisance that part of their group has women, one pregnant and one with a minor child.” 

The court heard that the Ugandans were arrested after police received information about their illegal entry into the country through a whistleblower.

According to the State papers, as presented by Denmark Chihombe, on February 8 2020, police officers in Bulawayo received information to the effect that there were Ugandan nationals who had boarded a Mercedes Benz sprinter vehicle registration number ABS 4895 white in colour which plies the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls route without valid travelling documents.

“Acting on the tip-off police officers proceeded to the Nyamandlovu toll-gate situated at the 20km peg along Byo-Vic falls road where they intercepted 20 Ugandan nationals and a five-year-old infant who was in the company of his mother Peninah Nakitende,” said Chihombe.

“Upon investigations, it was discovered that all the accused persons have valid Ugandan passports but had unlawfully entered Zimbabwe without a certificate authorising them to enter and remain in Zimbabwe.”

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