Kasungu National Park officials and the district commissioner’s office have warned residents of five villages who were encroaching 28.6 hectares of the park’s northern part at Malidonga Trading Centre to relocate immediately.
The officials paid a visit to the area on Monday where they met the residents to remind them of a Kasungu Magistrate’s Court judgement ordering them to move out before June 30 2021. The residents were given a one-year notice from June 2020.
Kasungu National Park division manager Timothy Chana said they conducted a tour before the advised date to remind the people about the court order after noticing that they were not moving from the area.
He said: “After taking these people to court, we won the case after providing enough evidence that they indeed encroached our protected park.
“The court fined one of the accused persons to pay a K1 million fine which he did and it also gave all the residents one year to either appeal the judgement or move out of the place after their harvest this year.”
Chana said as officials who are responsible to protect the park, they will ensure that the encroachers have moved out as per the court order and should they fail to comply, force will be used.
One of the residents, Yosofat Mwale, pleaded with the officials to allow them to continue staying on the land, stating that human beings are more important than wildlife.
“I was one of the few people that were arrested and taken to court until the final day. We have stayed on this land for over 20 years and we are not sure if there is still land for us where we came from,” he said.
On his part, Traditional Authority Chisinga said he has discussed with other chiefs about the matter and the residents know where to relocate.