Machinga police on Wednesday arrested two Mozambicans and a Malawian for allegedly trafficking 18 people as they were about to cross into Mozambique to work at a farm.
The people who were allegedly being trafficked included 14 children, according to Machinga police.
Machinga Police Public Relations Officer, Davie Sulumba confirmed the arrest of two Mozambicans, Mailosi Wilesi, 42, Haji Gilomu, 41 and a Malawian Tenes Kamanga, 42, at Nayuchi in the area of Sub Traditional Authority Mchinguza in the district.
Among the 18 people were nine children aged 14 to 16. They included school dropouts while some are still in school.
Sulumba said five children aged two to five were in the company of their parents who were among four adults, and that they were about to cross into Mozambique when police intercepted them after a tip off.
The three were arrested as they were seeking STA Mchinguza’s consent to pass through his area before crossing Nayuchi border post, according to police.
Sulumba said the chief was suspicious of the ages of the people in transit, prompting him to tip Nayuchi Police who arrested the three, rescued the 18 people and impounded a Toyota Hilux vehicle that had carried them from Traditional Authorities (TAs) Chikweo and Nkoola in Machinga.
Wilesi comes from Mponda Village while Gilomu comes from Mulute Village, TA Kalonga in Mecanhelas in Mozambique.
Kamanga comes from Nyungu Village, TA Nkoola in Machinga and was allegedly facilitating the trafficking of the 18 people.
The three are in custody at Machinga Police Station and will appear before court in Zomba to answer a child trafficking charge which is contrary to Section 79 of Child Care, Protect and Justice Act.
Meanwhile, District Social Welfare Officer for Machinga, Bertha Mijoya commended STA Mchinguza for saving the children from exploitation.
She called on all people in border areas to be alert about issues of child trafficking and all forms of child abuses.
Mijoya said her office would follow up the case to ensure justice is done and that the children return to school.