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Chipangali District Ward Councillor Arrested for Alleged Stealing 450 Bags of FRA Maize 

The Sisinje Ward Councillor for the Patriotic Front Party in Chipangali District, Phillip Bobat Phiri, has been formally arrested on charges of theft by agent, accused of stealing 450 50-kilogram bags of maize allocated by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA). 

Mr. Phiri, along with three accomplices, was apprehended and subsequently released on police bond pending further legal proceedings.

The arrest was confirmed by Limpo Liywalii, the Eastern Province Police Commanding Officer, who stated that the councillor and his associates would appear in court in the coming days. The magistrate overseeing the case has directed that the recovered maize be redistributed to the intended beneficiaries.

The incident unfolded on January 25th, 2024, at approximately 11 hours when a Volvo truck, loaded with FRA maize from the shed at Mgubudu, was entrusted to Councillor Phiri by a Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) official at Lundazi turn-off. 

Instead of delivering the maize to his ward for distribution to vulnerable families, the councillor is alleged to have diverted the truck to Chipwizi Farm off Mfuwe road in Chipata, with the intention of selling the relief maize.

The theft was discovered by alert police officers from Chipata Airport Police Station who, following up on another report in the area, intercepted the ongoing theft at Chipwizi Farm. 

The councillor, along with James Sakala (the buyer), Mabvuto Mwale (the truck driver), and Jones Mwale (co-driver), were found offloading the maize from the truck.

Further investigations revealed that Councillor Phiri had approached James Sakala, a 38-year-old businessman from Nyakutwa area in Chipata, offering 450 bags of maize for sale. 

Mr. Sakala, in turn, hired individuals to offload the maize, which was packed in Food Reserve Agency branded bags.

The alleged diversion of relief maize, intended for vulnerable families, has raised concerns among the local community. The case highlights the importance of ensuring the integrity of distribution channels for government relief programs and the need for stringent measures to prevent the misappropriation of essential resources. 

As the legal proceedings unfold, residents await further developments on this disconcerting incident involving a trusted civic leader.

Source: Breeze FM

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