Commotion in Karonga as maize smugglers refuse to appear in court: April 10 ruling

There was a commotion at Karonga district police station on Wednesday morning when 26 drivers arrested on suspicion of smuggling maize to neighbouring Zambia and Tanzania  refused to appear before the court.

The impounded trucks loaded with bags of maize

Police said they believe there is a syndicate to externalise the country’s maize and  the traders are using Karonga and Chitipa to smuggle maize.

Drivers and owners of the intercepted trucks were expected to appear before the court on Wednesday, according to the police and court officials.

However, the driver s”refused”  to go to court, saying they have not committed any offense.

“We have all legal documents and we wonder why the police are on our neck. On top that we were not trying to export the said maize,” argued the drivers in  a separate interview.

According to them, no one will appear before the court.

However, Karonga police deputy spokesperson George Mlewa while confirming that the suspects failed to appear before the court in the morning said “they  are still recording their statements, thus why the failed to appear before the court.”

When asked how many drivers and owners of the trucks have been arrested, Mlewa said no one has been arrested so far as the police are continuing with investigation.

Mlewa told Nyasa Times that the group will appear before the court soon after taking their statements.

Meanwhile, Chitipa resident magistrate Toxious Masoamphambe is on April 10 expected to rule on whether seven out of 17 truck drivers have a case to answer or not in a landmark case of maize smuggling.

This comes just a day after President Peter Mutharika issued an executive order to deploy Malawi Defence Force soldiers in all borders scattered across the country, including in Chitipa and Karonga.

About seven truck drivers appeared in the court on Wednesday where they all pleaded not guilty.

Two of them have legal representation.

Masoamphambe however ordered that they should continue be remanded at Chitipa police station until they appear again in the court on April 10.

He also ordered that the 17 trucks, full with the 350 metric tonnes of maize, continue being parked as Chitipa police station as they will be exhibited in court as evidence against the suspects.

Gladwell Simwaka, police spokesperson for the northern region said the others could not be brought to appear before the court for plea because they refused to have a caution statement taken which means they are yet to be charged with any offence.

Police prosecutor for the north Christopher Katani is representing the state.

Mutharika says the soldiers would deal with the smuggling of maize and tobacco.

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5 years ago

These Traders have committed their time and resources to this Maize. Govt failed to source maize locally, … yet we had plenty, for their selfish reasons. These Traders need their maize SOLD. They can not continue holding their money into the product …. otherwise their businesses will collapse.. My Advice to GOVT is .., Provide conducive grain market to Nationals….. not to foreigners then this will stop………..

5 years ago

Malawi @ 50 kkkk

Steven Mbeye
Steven Mbeye
5 years ago

What you people should know is that there are some Government Officials who are alos invoved in this Maize smuggling exercise….. Let`s wait and see….

Ken Busile
Ken Busile
5 years ago

To me, the govt is not solving the problem. The maize does not belong to govt it belongs to the traders. The govt, through Admarc and NFRA, have failed to buy the maize from the traders. Instead, govt opted to buy from Zambia at exorbitant prices! Now these innocent traders are seeking markets elsewhere, why should the govt arrest them? I think this is cruelty of the highest level! If the DPP govt is not careful, it will end up ruling for one term. It has failed to resuscitate the economy because of poor policies and these maize traders are… Read more »

5 years ago

Keep them in the cell, if they are innocent let them prove their innocence in court why are they refusing to go to court, something smells fishy here. If I was the police I would just keep them in the cell, they are taking their right to appear in court and have a fair trial for granted. Ungrateful guys KEEP THEM IN THE CELL.

5 years ago

the problem if something becomes court case it must surely end in court no matter how powerful you can be ask trump chaponda and kasambara the best way is to go to court and pay the fines since this is something to do with trade and it is just an order am not sure whether it is law not export maize go and get mabail mungopanga yayi charu ni mazgora

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