Lilongwe’s senior principal magistrate court on Friday acquitted all 20 Malawian illegal miners who were arrested in Lilongwe for mining along Nathenje river without licence, saying the state failed to prove its case against them.
Magistrate Viva Nyimba said the state’s evidence was disjointed and did not warrant the conviction of the suspects most of whom come from Matapira village in Chief Mazengera’s area which is near to the mining site.
Nyimbaalso accused the ministry of Energy of withholding vital information on mining from Malawians, such as that prospective miners can get a mining licence with as little as K3, 000.
Nyimba blamed the government for the increased illegal mining activities in the country, saying it has failed to civic educate people that mining licences are not as expensive as some people think.
This came to light after the first witness in the case, a deputy director in the ministry of Energy responsible for licences Gibson Nyirenda told the court that with K3, 000, people can have access to a two-hectare land of mining in three districts of their choice.
Nyirenda said the ministry requested the police to arrest the suspects after they failed to stop mining after warning them several times.
He said some of the illegal miners were using toxic chemicals to blast off minerals such as gold which he said was a health hazard to the people living in surrounding villages.
Nyirenda said the government discovered the minerals 40 years ago.
It was not immediately known on whether the state would appeal the case.