TWELVE foreign nationals from Ethiopia and Somalia on Tuesday pleaded not guilty before the Kabwe Magistrates court for consenting to be smuggled into the country while two Zambians jointly charged with them admitted the charge of aiding the smuggling of foreign nationals into the country contrary to the laws of Zambia.
Before Magistrate Sebastian Mwenya were Francis Chomba Sikazwe and Andreas Tiki Siziba both Zambians, Masamo Tegegne, Maamush Asafa, Abdirizaki Haje, Dagane Demsy, Gizajo Gadebo, Abraham Geja, Maamush Wakalto, Shire Hussein all Ethiopian nationals and Abdirahman Farah, Abdulahi Raage, Abdi Ise and Duale Abdulahi all of Somalian nationality.
In the first count, Sikazwe aged 27 and a welder of Nakonde district and 33-year-old Siziba, a driver of Lusaka stand charged with aiding the smuggling of foreign nationals into the country while knowing that they were not permanent residents in Zambia contrary to section 11 of the Anti Human Trafficking Act 11 of 2008 of the laws of Zambia.
In the second count, the 12 are charged with consenting to be smuggled into the country contrary to the laws of Zambia.
Sikazwe who pleaded guilty told the court that he just found the group standing on the roadside and did not know that they were foreign nationals though he transported them in his vehicle.
Although Sikazwe and Siziba admitted the charges, the court entered a plea of not guilty because they claimed not to have known the nationalities of the people they alleged trafficked.
And the 12 Somali nationals who comprised students, farmers and businessmen, speaking through interpreters said that they had passports but in Tanzania and Kenya they were told to surrender them to an unknown person so that he could assist them with Visas. They said that they did not know that they were in Zambia at the time of their arrest.
The matter has been adjourned to 22nd February for commencement of trial.
The accused were remanded in custody.