Police in Lilongwe yesterday arrested 48 people in connection with arson and damage to property at Kumbali Country Lodge after a land dispute between the proprietor and neghbouring residents turned ugly.
In an interview yesterday after the fracas that left some structures of the lodge and vehicles in ashes, owner of the lodge, Guy Pickering, lamented the destruction of property. He said the damage will heavily affect his business.
He also feared that some of his employees might lose jobs as the lodge attempts to recover from the damage.
Pickering said Kumbali Country Lodge employs about 300 people at full capacity and that in the face of Covid-19, the number was reduced to about 200.
He said: “With this [damage] more people will be retrenched because the income has been destroyed. First, people lost jobs because of coronavirus and now this. This [the fracas] was pure vandalism. They just wanted to loot and destroy property.”
Pickering said he was yet to quantify the damage, but said the damage was “huge”.
In a separate interview, N a t i o n a l P o l i c e spokesperson James Kadadzera condemned the destruction of property, saying people were not supposed to take the law into their own hands.
He said police have arrested some people in connection with the fracas and said more arrests will be made.
Kadadzera said: “I cannot say how many have been arrested, but just know that a number of people have been arrested and more arrests will follow
“As we are talking, police officers are on the ground to ensure that there is order.”
For some time, Pickering has been fighting some people he suspected to have encroached his land. The matter was taken to court where the residents were ordered to vacate.
However, the residents resisted after Pickering, with the help of some security personnel, tried to evict them last week.
Some of the residents were arrested in the wrangle, a development that irked others who regrouped yesterday and set ablaze part of the lodge, a nursery school and seven vehicles parked at the premises.