By SIMON MUNTEMBA
an agriculture camp officer who was caught selling 160 stolen bags of fertiliser under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) was reported to Police by Chief Chanje of the Chewa people in Chipangali.
And Mgubudu Police Post officer-in charge Mr Mbiza has confirmed the arrest of Mr Dumisani Tembo in connection with stolen farm inputs meant for cooperatives in the area.
“Yes, I can confirm that we have in custody an agriculture camp officer, Dumisani Tembo, who was apprehended for allegedly stealing 160 bags of fertiliser,” Mr Mbiza said.
In an interview, Chief Chanje said camp officers at Mtambalala Camp had allegedly diverted a truck laden with fertiliser which was meant to be distributed to the cooperatives and started selling to unsuspecting farmers.
He said the detained suspect in connivance with other camp officers, caused an artificial crisis of fertilisers claiming that Government had not yet delivered the inputs.
Chief Chanje explained that unknowingly, the agriculture camp officer approached one of his village headman that he was selling cheap fertiliser who in turn alerted him.
The agitated traditional leader said he took it upon himself to pick the suspect up and surrendered him to the police.
“He is behind bars at Mgubudu Police Post for stealing 160 bags of fertiliser meant for poor farmers. Last week, I received some complaints from many cooperatives at Mbenjele and Sisinje area in Chief Chikuwe’s area where I am also acting as chief that agriculture camp officers told them that there was fertiliser at Mgubudu shed for Chipangali, but what surprised us is that the same officers were selling fertiliser. And that is how we caught them,” Chief Chanje said.
He added, “The suspect has even surrendered K72, 000 to the police which he got after selling some bags of fertiliser.”
Chief Chanje has called for stiffer punishment against the erring officers to deter would-be offenders. He said it was unfortunate that officers who were supposed to be in the forefront spearheading government projects were busy frustrating its efforts.