—Police in Chipata yesterday raided the residence of a renowned politician from the ruling PF where they found a truck loaded with timber believed to have been illegally obtained.
The police, who conducted the search after a tip off from members of the public, found a truck registration ACL loaded with the timber from the famous Mukula tree at the residence of former PF Provincial Youth chairman, Makabaniso Maimisa in Kalongwezi, extension.
Upon realizing that a team of police officers was knocking at the gate, the driver of the truck from Chemac Transporters fled while the occupants ignored the police.
The armed police officers gained entry by climbing over the fence and found the prohibited logs on the truck while other logs were found in the garage.
But Mr Maimisa said he had confiscated the timber because the owner of the logs had not paid for transportation of the logs.
Asked whether he knew that it is illegal to engage in the transportation of the timber, Mr Maimisa claimed that he wanted to report the matter to the police after getting his dues from the Chinese national who was engaged in the illegal timber trade.
He had a tough time to explain how he kept the consignment of the logs at his house when he was supposed to take it to the police.
He explained that the Chinese national was reluctant to pay for the transportation of the timber which he said was destined to a place only known as Ataff where several other logs were located.
Mr Maimisa stated that he did not know the name of the Chinese national with whom he had a deal to transport the timber.
He said the police and officers from the Forestry Department were aware that there was timber parked at Attaf yard along Malawi road.
He wondered why police decided to conduct a search at his house when they failed to do so at Attaf yard where there were more logs.
And when the police ordered Mr Maimisa to drive the truck to the police, he stated that the driver had fled with the keys and requested the officers to give him time to get the keys.
Meanwhile, Eastern Province Permanent Secretary, Chileshe Mulenga, said government will take legal action against anyone engaged in illegal timber trade regardless of his/her status in society.
Dr Mulenga told ZANIS in an interview that he has received reports on the people engaged in the illegal activities and warned that no stone will remain unturned until the people behind the illegal exploitation of the Mukula tree are brought to book.
And responding to rumours that some politicians and government officers are engaged in the illegal exploitation of the Mukula tree, Dr Mulenga said investigations are still underway.
Meanwhile, PF Provincial chairperson, Attan Mwamba, said he is not aware that some people in the ruling party are involved in the illegal timber trade.
Mr Mwamba said the law should take its course regardless of the political inclination of people involved in the illegal timber trade.