Passport System Hackers Demands K2 Billion Ransom

Crooks suspected to have hacked the Passport Issuing System at Malawi’s Department of Immigration and Citizen Services are reportedly demanding about K2 billion to surrender the system.

Homeland Security Minister, Ken Zikhale Ng’oma told the media on Tuesday in Lilongwe but insists that government will not pay the ransom claiming that experts are working on the problem.

Ironically, Zikhale argued stating that it is not ‘unusual’ as it happens everywhere, including in banks and yet the situation has led to people failing to access the passports.

“People hack bank systems, it has happened elsewhere and that is not strange,” Ng’oma told the media.

Meanwhile, the Department of Immigration’s Director General Brigadier General Charles Kalumo (retired) says 90 percent of the system has been recovered.

“Let’s team up as Malawians to fight the enemy, let’s be united and reclaim the System,” Kalumo said.

In June last year (2023) it was reported that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services Director, Brigadier General Charles Kalumo (retired) ordered the shutdown of the permit section and sent on forced leave two of his deputies, without offering any reasons.

The shutdown at the headquarters effectively halted issuance of diplomatic, employment and residence permits a matter which Kalumo himself said was internal and administrative in nature.

However, some immigration officers confided in the media that the Immigration Director general revoked clearance of the chief passport officer, deputy commissioner Anne Kaonga and another, Commissioner Stanleck kalimanjira.

Allegations then also revealed that the retired brigadier general, Kalumo, sent on leave sixteen (16) officers from Chileka and Kamuzu International airport.

Meanwhile, some Civil society organizations are piling pressure on the Minister of Homeland Security, Dr Kenneth Zikhale Ng’oma calling on him to resign following the on going passport saga.

President Lazarus Chakwera recalled Kalumo from retirement in August 2022, a move which was heavily criticized and met with protest within the Immigration Department.