23 Mozambicans, 2 Chinese and 10 Malawians arrested for Lengwe National Park encroaching:  Case moved to Blantyre

After a heated debate on Tuesday, Chikwawa Magistrate Court  transferred the case involving over 30 encroachers that were found cutting down Mopan Tree Species at Lengwe National Park to the Chief Resident Magistrate Court in Blantyre.

Lengwe encroachers. Pix by Steven Chirombo. MAN
Lengwe encroachers. Pix by Steven Chirombo. MAN

The suspects; 23 Mozambicans, 2 Chinese and 10 Malawians were caught last week with several equipment including; chisels, six tractors, three motor bikes, a Volvo Lorry and two land cruisers doing illegal activities in the park.

State prosecutor Inspector Dovito Makawa told the court that he had received information that the Regional Prosecution Officer for the south wanted to take over the case meaning that the case should be transferred to the Chief Resident Magistrate.

He added: “there were possibilities to add more counts apart from the four offences which the suspects were charged with.”

The counts that the suspects are facing are; entering the national park without permit, entering the park with weapons and cutting down of trees in the park which are contrary to section 32 and 110 of the national parks and wildlife Act and illegal entry into Malawi which is contrary to section 21 and 37 of the Immigration Act.

The prosecutor then asked for a brief adjournment to pave way for the arrival of the regional prosecutor.

But the defense council led by Joseph Kamkwesi of Joe and Max Chambers argued that it was improper to transfer the case to Blantyre considering that the alleged offense was committed in Chikwawa.

“I believe that Chikwawa Magistrate Court is competent enough to handle the case. Let me remind the state that all the four counts are misdemeanors. Even the Chief Justice warned about judge shopping, it is not good to choose a specific magistrate to manage a particular case,” he said, emphasizing that the laws were clear.

As the two sides were busy arguing, the suspects of which most are Mozambicans had difficulties to grasp what was being said in the court and they just watched events unfold.

Chikwawa Second Grade Magistrate Joram Zebron then adjourned the case for 10 minutes to write a ruling on the application.

Moreover, the magistrate called on security departments like police to have and train special officers who can understand languages including Portuguese and Swahili for easy management of such cases.

“The country largely boarders Mozambique and Tanzania, and there is need to have deliberate mechanisms to manage cases committed by people from neighboring countries,” the magistrate said.

On the request to transfer the case to Blantyre, the magistrate said he has the competence to handle the case but does not want to be seen as clinging to the case but rather accepting the request to handover the case to the Chief Resident Magistrate.

He then extended the remand warrant for the suspects to 10 November, 2016 as their lawyers are running up and down to bail them out.

The court session was also attended by Director of Parks and Wildlife Bright Kumchedwa, immigration officers and various heads of government departments.

But later drama erupted at Chikwawa Police as the Mozambican suspects refused to board a prison vehicle to Blantyre. After some 10 minutes of wrestling with police, the 36 suspects were handcuffed and forced into the prison lorry.

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winston msowoya
winston msowoya
4 years ago

Chinese people have made Africa their ground for the destruction of our resources.These spoilers have taken Africa for granted and they must be brutally punished.When Africans go to China,they receive unwelcome hospitalities,they are damn racists I have ever seen in my life.

Chikadya Kuwani
Chikadya Kuwani
4 years ago

Please please don’t allow that in Malawi these Chinese they have finished trees in Zambia and Mozambique, that is a big case mulandu waukulu umenewo. Kuba bwanji anthu inu
Mwamange popanda ndalama nononono no fine

Mmalawi We Niweni
Mmalawi We Niweni
4 years ago

But MALAWI is simple as compared to all countries in Africa. You can’t do that in Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia or even in Rwanda. People from other countries invading MALAWI like that?

Nature enthusiast
Nature enthusiast
4 years ago

The case shows the challenges of protecting our natural heritage. let us improve on monitoring these areas which are far from cities. Secondly, beef up the charges against these offenders. some areas where beefing up the charges could be:
1. Upgrade the first charge to read.. trespassing into a specific part/zone of Lengwe National park rather than mere entry.
2.Illegally felling down X (number) of protected mopani trees in a protected area.
3.Possession and use of unauthorized equipment and tools in a protected area.
4. Degrading wildlife habitat of Y (number) hectares.

4 years ago

Malawians are a stupid bunch with no pride in their land no loyalty to their fellow citizens, we sell the country for a few dollars to good for nothing poachers and loggers to finish the little green spaces we have.

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