Chipata Central Police Station is currently investigating a case of theft involving the misappropriation of 450 bags of white maize designated as relief food for vulnerable citizens under Sisinje Ward, Chipangali District.
The incident came to light after Moffat Mulile, a 46-year-old Disaster Management Officer residing in the Chipata Motel area, reported the crime to authorities.
According to Mulile’s report, the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit collaborated with Councilors in Chipangali Constituency to oversee the distribution of relief maize to vulnerable citizens. On January 25th, 2024, at 11:00 hours, a white Volvo truck with registration number ARB 3632 was loaded with 450 bags of white maize from the Food Reserve Agency shed at Mgubudu.
The truck, driven by 37-year-old Mabvuto Mwale of Mthilansembe Compound in Chipata District, was escorted by Moffat Mulile up to Lundazi turn off, where it was handed over to Phillip Bobat Phiri, the Councilor for Sisinje Ward.
However, investigations revealed that instead of delivering the maize to his ward, Councilor Phillip Bobat Phiri diverted the truck to Chipwizi Farm off Mfuwe road in Chipata District with the intention of selling the relief maize for personal gain.
Alert Police officers from Chipata Airport Police Station, following up on another report in the area, intercepted the theft in progress. Individuals were found offloading the maize from the truck at Chipwizi Farm.
Further investigation disclosed that Phillip Bobat Phiri had approached James Sakala, a 38-year-old businessman from Nyakutwa area in Chipata, indicating that he had 450 bags of maize for sale. Sakala, in turn, hired individuals to offload the maize, which was packed in Food Reserve Agency branded bags.
All implicated parties, including Phillip Bobat Phiri (the Councilor), James Sakala (the buyer), Mabvuto Mwale (the truck driver), and his co-driver Jones Mwale, have been apprehended and are currently in police custody.
The value of the stolen maize is yet to be ascertained. Police investigations into the matter are ongoing.
Rae Hamoonga, the Police Public Relations Officer, emphasized the commitment of the police force to uphold justice and ensure that those responsible for such crimes face the full extent of the law.
The public is urged to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities related to relief aid or public resources to the authorities.