A court in Machinga district has ordered seven charcoal sellers to pay a fine of K100,000 each for being found in possession of charcoal without permission.
Machinga police publicist Dave Sulumba identified two of the suspects as Umali Chinthenga aged 27 and Madalitso Milanzi, 25.
Sulumba said the Department of Forestry and the Police conducted an operation within protected areas in Machinga and in the course of the operation they managed to arrest the seven who were found with a total of 13 bags of charcoal.
The charcoal sellers were arrested and charged with possession of charcoal without permission contrary to section 68 of the Forest Act.
In court they pleaded guilty and state prosecutor Mwasima Nkhoma begged the court to impose stiff punishments to the convicts saying such cases are rampant in the area and that the act contributes to climate change.
In mitigation, the convicts asked for leniency saying that they are engaged in such business because of poverty and that they are bread winners.
Machinga Second Grade Magistrate Maxwell Boazi concurred with the state and ordered the seven to pay a fine of K100,000 each or in default to serve 12 months in prison each.