Eight Tanzanians recently arrested for alleged spying in Malawi have been charged.
Tanzanian diplomats confirmed the arrest around the Kayelekera uranium mine but refuted claims they were spies, saying it was a team from Catholic relief organisation, Caritas, in Songea, Ruvuma region.
“They were detained by security officials in Malawi’s Karonga District, which borders Kyela District on Tanzania’s southern region,” Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
The Tanzanians were immediately charged with criminal trespassing and are currently being held at Mzuzu Prison pending a mention of their case on January 4, 2017.
The eight were on a study tour, Caritas says adding that the trip had nothing to do with spying.
According to officials in Dar, the organisation erred in allowing the said people to tour Malawi without the necessary permits, including informing the Tanzanian embassy in Malawi.
“The timing of the tour was also not right as it happened when Malawi government officials were on vacation for end of year festivities.
“That explains our inability to secure clearance to visit the eight Tanzanians," Foreign Affairs ministry officials in Dar further explained. They also revealed they were working closely with Caritas to secure the group's release.
On their part, Karonga police deputy spokesperson, George Murewa, said the suspects are in remand at Mzuzu prison after they were charged with criminal trespassing.
Malawian media last week reported that the Tanzanian nationals had been detained, alleging that some were spies sent to see if the southern African country was secretly developing nuclear weapons at the Kayerekela mine.
Malawian government dismissed the spying allegations.
Currently, the mine is shut. Some students from Tanzania visiting the country under Moravian Church were also denied permission to enter the site.