A charcoal dealer from Neno District has been handed a K100,000 fine by a court in Chikwawa District after being found with 36 bags of charcoal.
The convict, Rodrick Mateyu, 29, was found guilty on Friday.
According to Chikwawa police publicist, Foster Benjamin, the suspect is said to have contravened Section 68 of the Forestry Act for being found with forest produce without a permit.
“He committed the offence on 3 September within Majete Wildlife Reserve on the boundary between Chikwawa and Mwanza, “said Benjamin.
Police Prosecutor, Sergeant George Hussein, narrated in court that the convict was apprehended by forest guards.
“As the guards were patrolling, they came across the accused within a buffer zone for Majete( Wildlife Reserve).
” They found him packing charcoal into 36 bags and they immediately arrested him,” explained Hussein.
Mateyu admitted the charge and asked for a lenient sentence.
In his submission, however, the state prosecutor prayed to the court for a stiff sentence, arguing the accussed’s efforts were a disaster as they contributed to climate change.
“Your worship, what the accused did by cutting down trees to burn charcoal is uncalled for as the long-term impact could prove disastrous sooner than later,” argued the police prosecutor.
In his ruling, First Grade Magistrate Gladstone Chirundu echoed the state’s observation, saying characters like Rodrick Mateyu need to be slapped with hefty fines as they were frustrating government efforts in fighting environmental challenges.
Chirundu went on and sentenced Mateyu to pay a fine of K100,000 or in default serve 8 months imprisonment with hard labour.
He paid the fine to escape jail.