The Balaka Second Grade Magistrate Court in eastern Malawi has set free two people who pleaded guilty for being found with indigenous banned Tsanya logs without permit, accusing the forestry department of failing to perform their duties.
Police Prosecutor Sub Inspector Elias Chitsulo told the court that the suspects Billy Dziopani (36), and Joseph Feki (29), were on the night of 16th November, 2015 at Chingeni Roadblock, found with a container full of indigenous tsanya logs without permit.
Chitsulo said, the officers were doing routine checks at the roadblock when they came across a truck registration number PE1698 with Trailer number NN1213.
“When the suspects were asked of what was in the container, they said that they carried pine planks and produced a Malawi Government General receipt number 1608031 and transfer certificate number 008/15 in the name of J. Jussab which was issued at Regional Forest Office and was signed by M. D. Kawalewale on behalf of the Regional officer.”
But when the police insisted that they open the container, the officers discovered that the truck carried 450 banned tsanya logs without permit.
“The pine planks were just half a meter tall and were just used to disguise that they had taken planks as was written on the transfer certificate.”
The two pleaded guilty to the charge of being found in possession of forest produce without permit and Police tendered the tsanya logs and the vehicle as exhibits.
Passing judgment Second Grade Magistrate Victor Sibu acquitted the two saying that the Regional Forest Office failed their duty because they were supposed to check what was in the container before issuing the Government receipt and transfer certificate.
He said the two had authority to transfer the said items from Forest office and wondered as to why Police arrested them.
He said Regional Forest office knew what was going on and not the two. He therefore acquitted them and ordered that the truck, the pieces of pine planks and the banned tsanya logs be returned to the owner and Police has since released the vehicle and the tsanya logs.
Billy Dziopani comes from Chikalema village, Traditional Authority Dambe in Mwanza district while Joseph Feki comes from Phalula village, Senior Chief Nsamala in Balaka district.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :