In a dramatic turn of events the Malawi Defense Force (MDF) has fired seven soldiers from Moyale Barracks for selling confiscated timber from Viphya plantations where they were deployed for patrolling.
The development comes amid public outcry that the soldiers deployed in the forest were physically abusing people producing timber in the forest in the name of protecting it from illegal sawing.
The abuses were reportedly ranging from forcing women to have sex with men or forcing them to eat uncooked food staffs.
However, Nyasa Times has learnt that the seven soldiers were fired in relation to malpractices such as aiding illegal timber producers.
According to MDF spokesman, Wilned Chawinga, in conducting these operations, there have been matters of indiscipline arising from soldiers within the ranks and files like selling or conniving to sell confiscated items from charcoal burners and illegal loggers that led to dismissals but there has never been an incident whereby a soldier was involved in smuggling timber, other forest produces and even taking part in illegal logging.
“As a professional military this is one of the core values, and anybody who contravenes the orders as evidenced by the few that were dismissed at Moyale, is likely to face automatic dismissal. This is clear to all officers and men of MDF,” he said.
He added that Viphya plantations is one of the training areas where MDF conduct dry or live manoeuvres usually after a notice to the public, and that the place is equally affected by illegal loggers and charcoal burners.
“That aside, Operation Teteza Nkhalango is going on well. Currently, some of the illegal loggers, charcoal burners and most members of the general public have started appreciating what the MDF is doing to protect the environment. It is pleasing to note that despite some negative elements trying hard to frustrate the efforts in any way they can, the majority understand especially after noticing the progress and the negative effects of climate change,” Chawinga said.
Chawinga however failed to disclose the names of the said fired soldiers.