The Mangochi Second Grade Magistrate Court recently convicted and ordered Sub Inspector Palivati Kholowa, 42, of Zomba Police Station to pay K200, 000 or in default serve a one year jail term for being found in possession of charcoal produced from indigenous trees from Liwonde Forest Reserve.
The court also ordered the Department of Forest to seize the vehicle which the officer was using to transport 24 bags of charcoal to Zomba and sale it at an auction.
According to Prosecutor, Sub inspector Rodrick Kamuona, the convict was arrested at Nsomba Trading Center in Zomba on 2 June as Machinga Police together with Liwonde National Park and Machinga Forest Patrol officers were on a joint operation to corner charcoal dealers.
Kholowa is said to have been driving a Pajero vehicle registration number ZA 7286 which had the 24 bags of charcoal.
The convict pleaded guilty to the charge of being found in possession of forest produce without a permit which is contrary to Section 68 of the Forestry Act.
In mitigation, he asked the court for leniency saying he has three children currently in school who need his financial support.
Passing his sentence, Second Grade Magistrate, Maxwell Boasi, condemned Kholowa’s involvement in illegal charcoal dealings saying it is the duty of the police and other law enforcers to stop deforestation in the country.
Magistrate Boasi, thereby, ordered Kholowa to pay a fine of K200, 000 or spend one year in jail. He also ordered that his vehicle be seized and sold by auction to allow the proceeds be channeled towards environmental conservation.
Kholowa who paid the K200, 000 fine, hails from Mbwindi Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Malili in Lilongwe.