Court faults Malawi police on arrest of subsidized fertilizer vendors

A court in Malawi’s southern district of Balaka has blamed government for lacking proper legislation that would be used as basis of convicting people who are suspected of trading in subsidised fertilizers.

Second Grade Magistrate Maxwell Boaz of Balaka Magistrate Court said this when he was acquitting two suspects who were found in possession subsidized fertilizers suspected to have been stolen or unlawfully obtained.

According to Balaka police spokesperson, Sub Inspector Joseph Sauka the police arrested Malita Elias 45, and Chancy Nyamulani 40, after they were found with 103 bags of subsidized fertilizer of which 63 were for NPK and 40 for Urea.

“The Police acted upon a tip off from the public that the suspects were trafficking the fertilizer to Ntcheu en-route to Mozambique. The two were arrested at Chitseko along Manjawira – Msipe earth road after evading the police road block at Chingeni,” says Sauka.justice

Sauka says the two pleaded not guilty to the offence saying that they were not forcing the local farmers to sell them the subsidized fertilizers.

Passing judgement, Second Grade Magistrate Maxwell Boaz blamed the police for arresting the vendors because the suspects were not stealing from those who were selling the fertilizers.

Boaz said in the ruling that the two were voluntarily selling the fertilizer because they had problems to solve and that what the vendors did was in one way or the other assisting those who sold them the fertilizer because most of them do this because of hunger.

According to Sauka the magistrate said for the fertilizers to be protected there is need for the government to put in place a legislation that could hinder the vendors and beneficiaries from trading on same or put special marks on the bags.

The suspects were therefore acquitted on grounds that they did nothing wrong as far as the law is concerned and ordered the police to return the fertilizers.

Sauka says last week, the same court acquitted a Balaka based businessman Joseph Walani who was found with 42 bags of subsidized fertilizer and also acquitted another vendor White Adam who was found with 11 bags of fertilizer.

Last year Balaka police took eight cases of subsidized fertilizers to court and all the suspects were acquitted.

Another court in Mulanje also acquitted two men who were arrested on similar charges.

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