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Illegal miners receive suspended sentences

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By Jarson Malowa, Contributor:

The Zomba Principal Resident Magistrate Court has handed 43 illegal miners a suspended sentence of 18 months on the first charge of unauthorised mining in Mangochi District.

However, the miners have one more case to answer at the same court.

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Principal Resident Magistrate Benson Chitsakamire handed out the sentence after finding the miners guilty of operating at Namizimu Forest in Mangochi without a licence, contravening the Forestry Act of 1997.

Chitsakamire warned the miners against committing a similar offence in the next three years.

But lead State prosecutor, Christopher Katani, pleaded with the court that the State was not ready to parade witnesses on the second count of digging the forest.

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Following the State’s failure to parade the witnesses on the second count, the court adjourned hearing of the matter to November 26 2019.

Mangochi Police arrested the miners for illegally entering a protected area, contravening the National Parks and Wildlife Act.

Before the arrests, some civil society organisations of Mangochi took to the street to ask President Peter Mutharika to act on the illegal miners.

A few days later, Malawi Defence Force soldiers rounded up the miners and handed them over to police.

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