By Florence Mugarula, The Citizen Reporter Dar es Salaam. Tanzania is facing the increasing challenge of human trafficking and influx of illegal immigrants, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Saidi Mwema, said in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
Speaking at the opening of the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (SARPCCO), IGP Mwema said concerted efforts were needed to fight the problem because it was transboundary.
Mr Mwema made the remarks shortly before the delegates attending the meeting elected him SARPCCO chairman, taking over from Lt. General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi of South Africa. However, the IGP said generally Tanzania had recorded a decrease of 19 per cent in serious crime from January to December last year, compared to 2010 when the percentage was higher.
He said the meeting was set to enable Tanzania and South Africa to establish and discuss initial cross border transformation issues that would help the Police Force and all security organs to maintain peace and control crime in their areas.
“In this two-day meeting, we are looking forward to addressing bilateral issues between Tanzania and South Africa…we hope this will help us to set our plans and move forward,” he said.
The police boss said Tanzania has recorded at least 114 cases of illegal immigration and human trafficking from January to March, 2012.
Most of the illegal immigrants were from Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Pakistan, he said. According to IGP Mwema, a big number of illegal immigrants were caught on their way to South Africa to seek greener pasture.
“In a period of two months, we have already recorded 114 cases of human trafficking and illegal migration in our country… this is to say there is a big problem that needs to be tackled effectively,” said IGP Mwema.
He added that as Tanzania looked forward to the SARPCCO chairmanship next year, the country was also bullish about cooperating and working together with other African countries in tackling cross border crimes.
Among issues that will be discussed in the meeting include terrorism, which the IGP explains as a problem that needs to be tackled.
“My country is working hand with hand with others in facing and solving threats from Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab groups. Terrorism has remained a big challenge to the Police Force and therefore it is our responsibility to join hands in fighting the problem,” said Mr Mwema.
Other issues to be discussed include cyber crime, importation of counterfeit products and piracy. Others include human trafficking and illegal immigration as well as vehicle theft.
The police officials also discussed progress in the implementation of the SARPCCO resolution, assessment of policing challenges experienced in the country as well as appreciation of the Tanzania Police Force’s support of regional activities.
On vehicle robbery, IGP Mwema said last year, the Police managed to seize 19 stolen vehicles. He added that 13 vehicles were stolen from Japan, four from South Africa and one from the United Kingdom.
On piracy, the Inspector General of Police said Tanzania was working closely with other countries, including South Africa, to ensure success in the war against maritime piracy.
“We understand that there is a big problem of piracy, but the issue here is how we handle the matter and how we work as a country. Several task forces have been formed and they are working hard to control the situation,” said the IGP. For his part, Mr Mkhwanazi, the outgoing SARPCCO chairman who is also the acting national commissioner of Police in South Africa, said the reason why he visited Tanzania was to see how the resolution of fighting crime was being implemented.
As South Africa prepares to hand the SARPCCO chairmanship over to Tanzania, he said, his team was in Tanzania to see how resolutions were taking place. SARPCCO is an official forum comprising all the police chiefs from Southern Africa. It was established in 1995 at a conference of Police Chiefs at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, and it was decided that the Council of Police Chiefs should meet at least once a year.
A Secretariat, comprising officers from the member countries, has been formed as a permanent administrative and technical body through which SARPCCO operates.
The member countries of SARPCCO are Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.