Timber millers who obtained an injunction to continue making timber in the Viphya Plantation have withdrawn from the forest, saying government keeps violating court orders.
They also decried atrocities allegedly being committed by Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers who were deployed to expel them since logging and timber making was banned.
Government also stayed the court order obtained by the group to restrain officials from barring them from processing their wood, but did not challenge the ruling of the High Court which allowed them to continue operating in the plantation.
In an interview on Wednesday, lawyer for the millers George Kadzipatike said it is frustrating to fight a battle in court amid “continued use of excessive force” to drive them out of the plantation.
Kadzipatike said the millers have reluctantly decided to sign a consent order to set aside cases that are in court.
“If government cannot respect courts, people are helpless. We run to courts for protection, but government is violating the court orders,” he said.
Director of Forestry Clement Chilima said the group needed to engage his department to explore ways of accessing the logs they claimed to have procured prior to closure of the forest.
He said government was not trying to frustrate the timber makers’ cooperatives but to bring sanity in the hugely depleted plantation.
Government plans to plant more trees in the devastated forest, Chilima said. n