Immigration officer implicates JB in passport scam case

David Kwanjana with his lawyer at Lilongwe High Court

Former Regional Immigration Officer David Kwanjana on Monday testified before court that he felt intimidated by politicians in the processing of granting citizenship to some foreign nationals.

In the case in which Former Home Affairs Minister Uladi Mussa and four others are accused of fraudulently issuing citizenships and passports to foreign nationals Kwanjana was initially at pains to mention the politicians involved and said he could not say much as he was afraid of how this may be interpreted.

High Court Judge Khumbo Kachale questioned why a technical person like him he felt constrained to speak on the issue.

He confessed that through experience, he has problems with politicians who normally issue directives verbally.

Later on Kwanjana cited former President Joyce Banda who then was a Member of Parliament and Foreign Affairs Minister explaining that he would not know what would befall him if he did not succumb to their wishes as she later ascended to the Vice Presidency.

He said it was during the processing of an application by Peter Katasha that he realised that he (Kalaya) was very politically connected; as even when he rejected his application, he received letters from Banda and Professor David Mphande who was also a Minister to assist in the handling of his Permanent Resident Permit.

During cross examination with Katasha’s lawyer Jimion Nyanda, he was asked if he was given any money to influence the awarding of the permit but the Immigration Officer denied it.

Mussa (m) chats outside with his lawyers

He however acknowledged that Katasha was connected to politicians hence he was unable to write anything negative in his file and this admission was also made during his interrogation with the Anti-Corruption Bureau.

According to his assessment, the foreign national did not qualify for the country’s citizenship.

When pressed earlier on what was the basis for his rejection, he refused to say anything on the matter.

The Regional Immigration Officer denied claims that he granted over 50 citizenships to foreign nationals with disregard to procedures.

He emphasised that he did not have such powers to grant the documents to the foreign nationals as they rested with the Responsible Minister.

He further denied claims that in his duty as Chief Citizenship Officer, he sometimes bypassed the Chief Immigration Officer in processing of Citizenships.

The Immigration Officer insisted that he made several copies for each application one which was sent to his boss, the applicant, Ministry of Home Affairs and the fourth one which he kept for his own record.

Mussa is accused of fraudlently granting passports and citizenships to foreign nationals. 

During examination in chief with his lawyer Erick Salima, he expressed his displeasure at the use of the word bypass arguing that the Chief Immigration Officer was also kept in the loop on the happenings by the copy issued to his office.

When queried if some application skipped procedures he maintained that they were followed at all times.

He also denied any involvement by Uladi Mussa in his work saying he never had any interaction with the Former Minister because of the hierarchy at the Immigration Department adding that he was answerable to the Chief Immigration Officer.

He admitted getting calls from Desk Officers in the Ministry of Home Affairs on why it was taking long to process some applications but that none of them were from the Minister.

On the safeguards put to ensure that only deserving applicants get Citizenships, he told the court that the desk officers from the Department were trained to guide and advise prospective awardees whether to go ahead or not according to the checklist provided.

Kwanjana explained that his role was to re-check documents against the checklist which among others included bank statements, police clearance, passport copies and if processing fees were paid.

He maintained that he did not fail on his duties and that if he did, the desk officers would have detected it and would thus therefore not proceed with the processing of the documents to the Minister’s office.

Hearing of the trial continues on Tuesday at the Lilongwe High Court.