The Lilongwe Principal Resident Magistrate’s (PRM) court, on May 7, 2021, ordered that 440 bags (50kg each) of soya beans be forfeited to the Malawi government and that proceeds from the sale must be used to refurbish toilets at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH)
The accused person, Joseph Khalema (43), of Ugandan nationality, has also been handed a 6-month suspended sentence.
At the current local market, the 440 bags (50 kg each) could fetch roughly 10 million Malawi kwacha.
The Court heard through Police prosecutor, Senior Superintendent Prescort Mwayiulipo, that on the night of April 15, 2021, police patrol team intercepted Khalema, along the Mchinji – Lilongwe road, near Mpighu trading centre.
Said Mwayiulipo: “Police patrol led by Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (SACP) , Mecklina Medi, stopped two vehicles, a Scania truck registration number CP 7917 and a Toyota Dyna registration number MC 5848, carrying 370 and 70 bags of soya beans respectively”
Mwayiulipo, the Central West Region Prosecutions officer (RPO), submitted that Khalema failed to produce relevant supporting documents upon being questioned.
Further inquiry established that Khalema bought the soya beans from local farmers at Matutu village in Mchinji.
“He was later charged with an offence of buying smallholder agricultural produce without licence” said Mwayiulipo.
Khalema pleaded guilty to the offence. The state adduced overwhelming evidence which included a letter from Ministry of Agriculture, and the two vehicles that were used in committing the crime.
The prosecutor cited several aggravating factors, arguing that local farmers usually fall prey to such unscrupulous traders who use uncertified scales.
In mitigation, Khalema prayed that he obtained a loan from the bank, hence forfeiture order could adversely affect his economic muscle.
He also explained that he is a first offender and promised never to commit a similar offence in future.
Passing sentence, Principal Resident Magistrate Viva Nyimba highlighted the plight of a local farmer and illegal act of buying agricultural produce without licence.
He, therefore, slapped Khalema with 3 months IHL, suspended to 6 months.
Nyimba also ordered forfeiture of the consignment to Malawi Government, specifically directing that proceeds from the sale of the bags be used to refurbish Kamuzu Central Hospital toilets.
The two vehicles that carried the farm produce have been refered to Road Traffic Directorate to check ownership, before the Court makes further determination on disposal.
Joseph Khalema hails from Chisuku area in Kampala, Uganda.
He operates businesses in Lilongwe under the banner, Khalema Investments.