ZIMBABWE – Nine undocumented immigrants from Ethiopia are giving court officials in Gweru headaches as they struggle to prosecute them because they do not speak English.
The group appeared in court last week but the case was deferred to allow the officials to find an interpreter who understands the Ethiopians’ language.
According to prosecutor, Bernard Nyoni, all the Ethiopians do not understand English.
“We experienced challenges in communication,” he said.
“The Ethiopians could not understand English or any local language, neither could we understand theirs. We remanded all the nine suspects in custody since they had had no known address. They will be coming back to court on Friday.”
Court officials were busy last Friday phoning different offices, including the Ethiopian embassy, in search of an interpreter to no avail.
Police arrested the Ethiopians last week Tuesday after a Toyota Quantum allegedly ferrying them to South Africa was involved in a road accident at Vungu River Bridge just outside Gweru.
According to the state at about 4am, the illegals, who were accompanied by three locals, boarded a Toyota Quantum driven by Gabriel Murindangomo at Wimpy Garage in Gweru.
Nyoni said the Zimbabwean nationals told driver that the Ethiopians were going to Bulawayo and would each pay $30 for the trip which usually costs $5. The fares would however, be paid by a man in Bulawayo.
As they were driving towards Bulawayo, the vehicle was involved in an accident, resulting in the injury of the Ethiopians.
The Zimbabweans accompanying them quickly disappeared from the scene before the arrival of the police, leaving Murindagomo with the Ethiopians.
Prosecutors said the injured Ethiopians were taken to Gweru Provincial Hospital where they were treated and discharged.
Police and immigration officers would later discover that all nine did not have any passports or identification particulars leading to their arrest.
Investigators believe the nine are part of a larger group of illegal immigrants from Ethiopia in Zimbabwe.
Last week police raided a house in Bulawayo’s Emganwini Suburb and arrested 12 Ethiopians who were in the country without valid travel documents.
They were not asked to plead when they appeared before magistrate, Mildred Matuvi last Friday on charges of entering into Zimbabwe without valid travel documents.