Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Bright Msaka has backed Malawi Defense Force (MDF) soldiers on the use of excessive force that has led to the killing of a suspected enchroacher on Thursday at Mulanje mountain forest reserve.
In retaliation to the killing, irate villagers stormed the forest reserve and chased away the soldiers who were guarding the forest, seriously wounding one soldier who is now battling for his life at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre.
“The soldiers are well trained how to use excessive force. It is unfortunate that a life was lost,” he said.
Msaka is the most senior government official to comment on the matter after the incident on Thursday.
He said the soldiers can use live ammunition if faced with a volatile situation which can cost their lives as well.
“These enchroachets are heavily armed when they enter the forest reserves and the soldiers have to respond accordingly,” he said.
He however said the soldiers are told to protect the forests without shooting to death people who enchroach the forests.
The government has deployed soldiers to protect forests in Chikangawa, Dzalanyama, Dedza and Mulanje among other forests.
The situation has now calmed in Mulanje following the confrontation between the villagers and soldiers.