Police in Ntcheu have arrested nine people for encroaching in Dzonzi-Mvai Forest Reserve.
The 4,425-hectare Dzonzi Forest Reserve and the 5,619-hectare Mvai Forest Reserve are a water source for Ntcheu and Balaka Districts.
They are surrounded by traditional authorities Mpando, Phambala and Kwataine in the district.
Confirming the development, Ntcheu Police Station Publicist, Sub Inspector Hastings Chigalu said the suspects were arrested while cultivating in the protected area without permission.
“Police in conjunction with the Department of Forestry organised a raid in the forest reserve where we arrested nine people who were found cultivating without permission or licenses,” said Chigalu.
He said the suspects have been charged with cultivating in a forest reserve without authority.
Some of the accused individuals include Emmanuel Veliyo, Benjamin Velesoni and Thomas Mpaso, all from Traditional Authority Mpando and Prister Chimanga of Kandota Village in T.A. Kwataine all from Ntcheu District.
According to Ntcheu District Forestry Officer, Donex Mtambo, over 200 hectares of land has been encroached within the two forest reserves.
The protected areas were established in 1977 to provide timber. Currently they have pine and bluegum trees covering about 800 hectares.
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