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44 in court for starting veld fires

44 in court for starting veld fires

Chronicle 6 October 2017

 

Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Reporter
FORTY-FOUR people have appeared before the courts for contravening the Environmental Management Act after allegedly starting veld fires that have destroyed almost one million hectares of land across the country.

EMA Public Relations Officer, Mr Steady Kangata said most of the arrests were done in August and September following the commencement of the fire season in July.

He said the 44 were taken before magistrates countrywide and their cases are yet to be concluded.

Mr Kangata said in the latest arrests, four people were nabbed last week in Insiza District, Matabeleland South province as well as in Chegutu in Mashonaland West province.

He said nine people have also appeared before traditional courts for starting veld fires.

“A total of four dockets were opened this week at the following police stations; Insiza and Chegutu. 44 dockets are currently pending with the courts and the cases are yet to be finalised since the beginning of the fire season,” said Mr Kangata.

“To date, nine people have been prosecuted by traditional courts according to our records.”

Mr Kangata said among those who appeared before traditional courts, Mr Philip Siziba of Insiza was fined a beast or $450 after deliberately starting a fire that destroyed six hectares of land.

He said three men from Chegutu and Makonde in Mashonaland West were fined $100 each while the rest of the offenders were fined goats for various offences related to fire incidences.

Mr Kangata advised the public, especially those in rural areas, to desist from storing flammable substances and to maintain clear fireguards.

“Our statistics show that we have had much more veld fires this year as compared to last year. We should all conserve the environment as it is in our best interests. Four people have been killed by veld fires in the last three months and these statistics are catastrophic,” he said while urging members of the public to report anyone they see starting a veld fire.

@andile_tshuma 

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