The Mzuzu Senior Resident Magistrate Court on Tuesday handed out hefty fines to 14 bicycle taxi operators for burning a motorcycle.
The Kabaza operators were ordered to pay a fine of K100, 000 each or in default to serve three years in prison for setting on fire a motorcycle belonging to their chairman.
According to police, in 2015 Mzuzu Police Station was overwhelmed with the upsurge of traffic accidents involving Kabaza operators. On a daily basis five accidents were being reported.
To avoid such accidents, Police allocated all Kabaza operators to designated points whereby they were forbidden to reach the inner city of Mzuzu.
Unfortunately, the operators were not happy with the operation. Therefore, they accused their chairman, Joseph Sitima, of siding with Police.
On 8th February 2016 the leadership of Kabaza Association in the city was invited to a meeting at Mzuzu police station. As the chair for the association, Sitima attended the meeting.
Before going to the meeting on that particular day, Sitima left his motorcycle registration number BS 7252 worth K1.3 million with his friend.
After hearing that the chair had gone to a meeting at the Police station, the Kabaza operators became angry. They gathered and forcibly took the chairman’s motorcycle to around Namizu junction area in Chibanja in the city where they willingly and unlawfully burnt it to ashes.
The 14 were arrested and appeared in court where they pleaded not guilty to a malicious damage charge.
However, after the parading of state witnesses, the presiding Senior Resident Magistrate Anthony Banda convicted them.
State Prosecutor Assistant Superintendent Betty Msowoya asked the court to impose stiff sentences to deter other would be offenders.
In mitigation, the convicts told the court they are breadwinners of their families and prayed for lenient sentence. Nevertheless, as a lesson to other would be offenders, the court ordered them to pay a fine of K100,000 each or in default to serve three years imprisonment with hard labour.
The convicts are Davis Mhango, 25, Chimwemwe Soko, 25, Steven Mtambo, 31, Amos Phiri, 16, Charles Mkandawire, 19, Juman Phiri, 23, Thom Kaunda, 23, Fabian Mbewe, 30, Innocent Mkandawire, 22, Likwambe, 18, Petros Ndhuli, 20, Rastin Ndhuli, 18, and Stuwart Magawa 25.
Meanwhile the operation has proved successful as the accidents have now been reduced from five to zero per day.