Bid to Seek Release of Tanzanian Nationals

The government of Tanzania is pursuing diplomatic procedures to secure the release of eight Tanzanians  in remand custody in Malawi, where they are facing criminal trespass charges.

The Malawian security officers arrested them in December, last year, at the Kayerekera Uranium Mine Site in Karonga where it was initially alleged that the latter were sent by the Tanzania government to investigate if Malawi was manufacturing nuclear weapons.

The arrested Tanzanians are Ashura Yasiri (63), Wala-sa Mwasangu (30), Binto Materinus (32), Christian Msoli (38), Martin Jodomusole (25), Layinali Kumba (47), Maliyu Mkobe (37) and Gilbert Mahumdi (32).

On Tuesday, Mzuzu Chief Resident Magistrate Tecious Masoyamphambe denied bail to them, sending them back to remand prison to wait for the next hearing of their case on January 26, Malawi media re-ported yesterday.

The Tanzanian Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Dr Aziz Mlima, told the ‘Daily News’  that the Tanzania High Commissioner in Lilongwe was closely following up the matter, including visiting the detained Tanzanians.

He said last week, the high commissioner visited them at the remand and was given 30 minutes to have conversation with them regarding the issue.

“We are continuing with diplomatic procedures in efforts to ensure that this matter is being resolved amicably,” he said.

The ministry’s Spokesperson, Ms Mindi Kasiga, said it was a relief that the case was shifted from the High Court to the district court, proving that the allegations facing them have now become ‘less weighty’.

Recently, the government dismissed claims that the arrested Tanzanians were spies, insisting that they were activists opposed to uranium ex-traction.

The government had established that the eight Tanzanians being held in Malawi were employees of a German-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), which advocates a stop in the extraction and use of uranium.

During the court proceedings on Tuesday, drama erupted when the accused Tanzanians demanded that a fellow national should be the case’s interpreter.

“We are failing to under-stand what the court is saying because your interpreter is poorly translating our language; we, therefore, need a good interpreter from our country,” said one of them.

However, the court man-aged to hire a translator from Misuku District Magistrate’s Court in Chitipa District.

The court then told the group their charges, which include criminal trespass, contrary to Section 314 of the Penal Code and carrying out scouting (using suspicious equipment) without permission.

When they asked for bail, the police through Malawi’s Director of Legal Services Mwayi Kaluwa, argued that tracing the group will be difficult because they were foreigners.

Kaluwa further noted that giving the bail to the suspects will jeopardise investigations. Concurring with the police, Magistrate Masoyamphambe ruled that the eight suspects should remain in the hands of the police.

Source: Tanzania Daily News