The Machinga second grade magistrate court has handed out heavy fines to 13 people who were arrested for being found with 145 bags of charcoal.
The court ordered the 13 to pay K300,000 fine each after they were found guilty of possessing forest produce which is contrary to section 68 of the Forest Act.
When presenting facts, state prosecutor Cliff Kalawa told the court that on 26th and 27th August 2016 the forestry department conducted operations with the aim of apprehending charcoal burners in the district of Machinga.
During the operation, the law enforcers caught the 13 and seized 145 bags of charcoal. Prosecutor Kalawa therefore prayed for stiff punishments to the convicts since they are contributing to unfavourable weather conditions in the country.
During mitigation, some of the charcoal burners pleaded for leniency since they are breadwinners while others said they are orphans.
But Machinga second grade magistrate Maxwell Boazi agreed with the state and ordered the convicts to pay 300,000 kwacha each in order to deter would be offenders.