Irate villagers torch Liwonde National Park guardrooms

Machinga: Irate villagers in Liwonde in Machinga District went on rampage Tuesday when they damaged and set ablaze two guardrooms at Liwonde National Park on suspicion that the officials had arrested a fisherman on the basis of fishing in a protected area.

Police had to use teargas to disperse the angry villagers, according to eyewitnesses who confided in Malawi News Agency (Mana).

Machinga Police Public Relations Officer Constable Davie Sulumba confirmed the development, saying the incident occurred following the missing of an 18 year old fisherman identified as Charles Mathias of Kaudzu Village in Traditional Authority Sitola.

According to a relation to the missing fisherman, Assan Mathias, on September 6, the victim and his colleague went for fishing at the Shire River within the protected area of Liwonde National Park without permit, Sulumba said.

Whilst fishing, they saw the parks patrol team, one in a boat and the other in a helicopter flying over towards them, added Sulumba.

Sulumba said the fishermen, upon sensing danger, hid underneath the reeds along the Shire River. He said one of them managed to swim ashore leaving behind his friend.

According to Sulumba, the teenager went missing from then and relatives suspected that the boy had been arrested by one of the patrol teams, a claim that the park officials denied.

We (police) launched an investigation into the matter on September 11, 2018 but we were interrupted by the irate villagers, Sulumba said.

Meanwhile, police have condemned the acts of violence the villagers have demonstrated and have since appealed to the villagers to remain calm as they have intensified investigations into the matter.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA