The Salima Magistrate’s Court has fined Christopher Chibwe and Austin Chiyamwaka K800 000 collectively for trafficking charcoal or in default serve 20 months imprisonment.
Chibwe, 38, was fined K500 000 and Chiyamwaka, 32, was ordered to pay K300 000 for trafficking charcoal without permit.
Salima Police Station spokesperson Jacob Khembo said the court also forfeited the 10-tonner vehicle that carried the charcoal.
He said police arrested the two on February 17 this year when officers intercepted their vehicle loaded with charcoal at Kamzimbe Trading Centre in the district.
“Chibwe was the driver of the vehicle while Chiyamwaka was his customer and they diverted from the Nkhotakota- Salima Road to Chitala Road,” said Khembo.
Chibwe and Chiyamwaka pleaded guilty to the charge of transporting forest produce without a permit which contravenes Section 68 of the Forestry Act.
In her ruling, senior resident magistrate Joana Kwatiwani said it takes many years to replace a forest.
Chibwe has since paid the fine while his accomplice is yet to pay his.
Reacting to the judgement in an interview, director of forestry Clement Chilima described the development as a milestone towards the fight against illegal production, trafficking, and selling of charcoal in the country.
The National Charcoal Strategy of 2017 to 2027 says that more than 97 percent of households in Malawi rely on illegaly and unsustainably sourced biomas (charcoal and firewood for domestic cooking and heating energy.