Voter verification exercise at Mzenga Centre in Mchinji North Constituency has been suspended after villagers attacked a police officer at the centre in protest against Forestry officers who allegedly destroyed their crops.
It is reported that Mchinji Forestry officials on Monday destroyed crops at Mzenga Village, accusing the communities of cultivating in the forest reserve area.
According to Mchinji Police Station Officer in Charge, Owen Maganga, the development angered the villagers who resorted to disturb the voter verification exercise.
The Officer in Charge said at the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) centre, the said villagers also beat up a police officer and Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) officer.
Maganga said the two officers were referred to Mchinji District Hospital the same day where they were treated as out-patients.
“Yes, we received report that Forestry officials damaged crops belonging to the communities at Mzenga Village. The communities are accused of cultivating in the forest reserve.
“In revenge, the communities resorted to disturbing the ongoing voter verification exercise.
“The villagers also injured one police officer and MEC officer who were trying to protect MEC materials,” he said.
He, however, said no arrest has been made so far as investigations are still underway.
Mchinji District Elections Clerk, Blackson Banda confirmed the development, saying the voter verification exercise at the centre has been suspended due to security reasons.
Meanwhile, Mchinji District Forestry Officer, Fortune Kanyada has confirmed the forestry officers were conducting the patrols in the forest reserve and that in the process, they found people harvesting crops.
Kanyada said upon seeing the Forestry Department vehicle, the people started pelting stones in effort to chase the Forestry officers who were armed.
“The people were also pelting burning firewood and in the process, their crops got damaged by fire. They accused forestry officers of burning their crops,” she said.
Kanyada said forest reserves in the district are facing numerous challenges including encroachment.
By Aaron Banda