DEDZA-(MaraviPost)-Dedza district magistrate court on Monday ordered five traditional leaders in in the district to pay a fine of K50, 000 each after being found guilty of cultivating in a forest-reserve area.

According to court records, the convicted chiefs include village headmen Nkwaila, Mtandamaha, Matenje, Dengu and Michael from Traditional Authority (T.A) Kachindamoto in the district

The five were arrested last week for encroaching and cultivating in Mua-Luvulezi Forest Reserve for a piece of land of over 420 acres.

The convicts are said to have been cultivating in the forest without permission from the authority between the months of September and October this year.

The development has excited ministry of natural resources, energy and mining saying such sentences though a bit lenient will deter those that might intend to encroach into the protected areas.

The ministry’s spokesperson Sangwani Phiri lauded the court for the fines saying traditional leaders must set a very good example in conserving the environment.

“Indeed officials from the department of forest together with Malawi Police Service apprehended them to answer the charge of encroachment contrary to section 64 of the penal code. The five chiefs were found guilty for encroaching in the protected area.

“They were later ordered to pay MK50, 000 each or in default to spend 18 months in prison. The five therefore managed to pay MK50, 000 each. This will deter those that might want to encroach the protected or reserve areas,” said Phiri.

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