Community members in Mchinji allegedly beat up Senior Chief Mlonyeni and four Mchinji District Council officials at Mchinji/Zambia border over plans to allocate land for a border market.
In an interview, Mchinji District Council chairperson Yona Mtanga, who was part of the delegation that included Mchinji District Council director of planning and development Noel Dakamau and other land officials, confirmed the incident.
He said they went to Tikoliwe Village in Traditional Authority Mlonyeni to discuss with traditional leaders to allocate their farmland for the construction of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) supported border market.
He said they were surprised to see about 100 people, including village heads, gathered at the place they agreed to meet for the discussions.
Said Mtanga: “They accused us of being corrupt, saying they heard rumours that the land would be used for other projects and not the market. Luckily, we escaped, but with injuries.”
He said they rushed to Mchinji District Hospital where they were treated as outpatients.
Mchinji district commissioner Peter Jimusole said the community members also smashed a vehicle belonging to Senior Chief Mlonyeni and snatched their phones.
“The council chose the place because it is along the border,” he said.
Jimusole said the council will continue to engage the communities so that the project should proceed.
Meanwhile, Mchinji Police Station officer-in-charge George Mtetemera said no arrest has been made so far.
Comesa is constructing border markets to reduce connection between traders and customers.