The Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court has fined Ugandan trader K1, 000 (one thousand kwacha) for illegal farm produce business after being found with 640 bags of soya beans which he wanted to smuggle into Zambia.

The court, on Tuesday, also ordered the trader, Eric Mugerwa, to have his truck and 640 bags of soya beans, which are worth K11 million, forfeited to the government.

State Prosecutor Inspector Rodney Bottoman told the court that Mugerwa was busted on April 12 this year at Namitete Trading Centre while loading the bags into his truck, registration number RU 8635.

In his trial, Mugerwa admitted to buying agricultural produce without a license.

The offence contravenes Regulation 3(2)(b) of the Smallholder Agricultural Produce (Marketing) Regulations as read with Regulation 8(a) of the Smallholder Agricultural Produce (Marketing) Regulations.

Through his lawyers, Pawene Nkhata and Gift Katundu, Mugerwa asked for leniency saying he hadn’t wasted the court’s time.

However, Prosecutor Bottoman prayed to the same court to mete out a harsh sentence.

He argued that a tough penalty would help in protecting local farmers from unscrupulous traders like Mugerwa.

In his judgment, Second Grade Magistrate Tawonga Muwalo bought into the state’s submission.

He stated that there was a need to hand down a meaningful sentence to stop unscrupulous traders from exploiting poor farmers.

Muwalo went ahead slapping the Ugandan businessman with a K1, 000 (one thousand kwacha) fine or in default serve one month in prison.

He also ordered the convict to forfeit both his truck and soya beans to the Malawi Government.

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