GWANDA – Some 56 illegal Ethiopian immigrants were arrested at a Ranch 40 km from Gwanda in West Nicholson after they had travelled from their country since November last year.
They said they were going to South Africa to look for jobs.
Six of the immigrants fainted in court due to hunger and prison officers had to prepare porridge for them.
The immigrants appeared before Gwanda Provincial Magistrate Obidience Matare facing charges of unlawful entry and remaining in Zimbabwe without a permit.
They were found hiding in Mashura Ranch under the protection of Norman Dube.
The 56 accused are all males of Ethiopian nationality and none of them except one Lonsako Esatu Sumoro could speak and understand English.
Sumoro told the court that they left Ethopia on November 17 last year.
"We left Ethopia last November. We were going to South Africa to look for jobs. We came through Tanzania, Mozambique and then Zim. We used Nyamapanda Border Post and we have been using trucks to get to this point," he said.
On the other hand Dube told the court that he was keeping the accused in Mashura Ranch because he was employed by someone in BeitBridge to take care of the accused. I was supposed to be paid $100 for taking care of these people.
Dube was ordered to pay a $100 fine for assisting illegal immigrants.
Meanwhile Magistrate Matare said he could not remand the accused persons as they looked frail and harmless. They were therefore lodged at Gwanda Prison through a warrant issued by the Immigration Department.
This is not the first bunch of illegal Ethiopians to get into Gwanda as 13 others were caught in Filabusi last year and deported back to their country.