The Ntcheu Magistrate’s Court has fined Kingsley Mataya K1 million or in default to serve two years in jail for charcoal trafficking.
State prosecutor Brazio Kambalame told the court that Mataya, 24, was arrested on May 24 2022 at Ntonda Trading Centre while driving a 15-tonne vehicle registration DZ 2132 loaded with 100 bags of charcoal.
He told the court that Mataya was arrested during police patrol.
He pleaded guilty to trafficking forestry produce without licence contrary to Section 68 (3)(a) of the Forestry Act, but prayed for leniency, saying he is a first offender and a bread winner for his family.
But in his ruling, senior resident magistrate Joshua Nkhono dismissed the plea and fined Mataya K1 million.
He ordered the charcoal to be forfeited to Malawi Government.
In a separate interview yesterday, Ntcheu district forestry officer Donnex Mtambo said he was satisfied with the sentence.
He said previously, the maximum fine for such cases was K300 000.
“This will send a strong signal to those involved in charcoal business without licence,” said Mtambo.
He said every year the district loses over 100 hectares to illegal charcoal production, encroachment and bushfires.
Mataya comes from Doviko Village, Traditional Authority Mpando in the district.