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25-Year-old boy jailed jailed 3-years for being found in forest

By Trinity Kamwani

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Neno April 9: First Grade Magistrate Court in Neno has sentenced Kelvin Rodrick, 25 to three years’ imprisonment with hard labour (IHL) after being found in Tsamba Forest Reserve in the district and for obstructing a forest patrol officer from carrying out his duties.

State prosecutor, Alexander Boko told the court that Rodrick committed the offence on April 6, 2024 in the forest reserve where forest patrol team found him cutting trees for charcoal production.

“He stubbed one of the officers, Cosmos Bonzo on the thigh to escape arrest but he was apprehended and taken to Neno Police Station where three charges were placed on him,” he said.

Rodrick pleaded guilty to all the three counts of cutting trees in a protected area without license, conveying into a forest with weapons and obstructing a forest officer.

During submission, Boko asked the court for a custodial sentence saying though being first offender, Rodrick habitually tampered with the protected forest reserve to produce charcoal as business thereby neglecting forest laws deliberately.

Magistrate Margret Khobili concurred with the prosecutor saying a custodial sentence would help protect the forest and officers from further harm and deter those with similar perspective.

“Destroying forests contributes to bad climate conditions and this year’s rainy season is a call to mindset change towards forest conservation as stipulated in the amended Forest Act of 2020”, she said.

Khobili sentenced Rodrick to three years IHL and ordered him to pay K410, 000 fine of which K150 000 was compensation to Bonzo.

Rodrick comes from Chilombo Village, Traditional Authority (TA) Chekucheku in Neno district.

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