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CHONGWE VILLAGERS RIOT

By JOHN KOMBE

VILLAGERS in Chongwe on Friday mobilised to hound out officers from the National Parks and Wildlife from the area for alleged corrupt activities.

Chongwe District Commissioner Robster Mwanza who confirmed the development described the incident as unfortunate.

Mr Mwanza disclosed that the villagers of Mulalika Village mobilised to attack and chase the officers who were camped in the Chalenga area of Chongwe.  He said that the incident happened on Friday around 18:00 hours.

The villagers have accused the officers and a member of the lands committee in the area of charging charcoal traders illegal fees.

The officers were working in collusion with other operatives to intimidate and extort money from them. 

Traders who come to order charcoal from the charcoal burners in the area are charged up to K1, 500 per truckload of charcoal.

Mr Mwanza condemned the act and promised to investigate the matter. He said that his office would not condone corrupt practices from government officers.

He also advised the residents and charcoal traders to be calm as his office was working to resolve the matter.

He revealed that his office had received an official complaint from the charcoal traders association. He also confirmed receiving evidence in the alleged scam.

He had now convened a meeting with all stakeholders involved and was studying the submissions. He promised to engage the provincial national wildlife office to resolve the matter.

And Zambia Police spokesperson, Esther Katongo confirmed that some residents had mobilised and chased the wildlife officers from the area. 

In a statement to the Sunday Nation yesterday she revealed that the residents were provoked after they learnt that some officers had gone into the area to ask for payment from a trader whose charcoal laden truck had broken down on its way out.

She said the villagers managed to chase the officers and apprehended one woman. She however disclosed that there was no violence.

She said that order had since been restored by police who moved to the area and the woman was also rescued.     

A trader, Willy Mumba of Bauleni market said the officers were demanding bribes despite the traders having permits from the forestry office. He claims that the payments were made through an Airtel mobile money account of a named officer and a Mr. Njekwa, a member of the lands committee in the area.

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