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Chief Ngolongoliwa concedes Thyolo-MJ land problems

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State witness in the case in which Vincent Wandale and his two accomplices are being accused of unauthorised use of land, criminal trespassing and threatening violence, Senior Chief Ngolongoliwa of Thyolo has said the government ought to liaise with estate owners to share some land with the people of Thyolo and Mulanje.

Ngolongoliwa, who was paraded by the state as the fifth witness at the Blantyre Magistrate Court on Tuesday, condemned the approach his subjects took when distributing land at Conforzi Plantation, but he conceded that people in Thyolo have serious land problems.

Speaking to the jam-packed court, Ngolongoliwa said chiefs are the custodians of land; therefore they are entitled to distribute land and not anyone else.

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After testifying, Ngolongoliwa told the media that indeed people in Thyolo do not have land to cultivate hence the government should discuss with the estate owners to share some piece of land to the community.

“It is important that government should continue discussing with the estate owners if there can be a chance that some idle land in the estates should be distributed to the people,” Ngolongoliwa said.

Responding to Ngolongoloiwa’s suggestion, Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Lands, Charles Vintura, said the government has been looking at different options in addressing the land issue that is of concern for the people of Thyolo and Mulanje.

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“It just requires the willing estate owners that are ready to release part of their land for government to subdivide it. Government cannot force estate owners to release land as this will be unconstitutional. Another option was already piloted by government through Kudzigulira Malo project where idle estates were bought off and distributed. Through the project, 15 000 families benefitted only that the project was expensive,” stated Vintura.

Meanwhile, lawyer for the accused Michael Chipeta, has applied for bail which Senior Resident Magistrate Thokozani Soko said will give a ruling on Monday.

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