POLICE have arrested a Chinese national for forging export permits used to export the prohibited Mukula tree, says Lands and Natural Resources Minister Jean Kapata.
In an interview with the Daily Nation Ms Kapata said it was not true that the Forestry department had been issuing permits for the exportation of Mukula tree, but that some Chinese nationals had forged the documents.
Ms Kapata said the culprit had been arrested and the ministry had since written to the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) to also charge the culprit for money laundering.
Ms Kapata said the Chinese national allegedly forged Forestry Department papers and signatures of officers to transport the logs.
She said it was sad that foreigners who came in the country disregarded the laws of the land and started illegal harvesting of the prohibited Mukula tree.
She said forging of the documents and signature was a serious offence in Zambia and the law would be followed in dealing with this issue.
She warned that anyone found defying the ban would not be spared as they would face the full wrath of the law and that no one would be shielded.
Ms Kapata further warned all transporters involved in illegal transportation of Mukula to desist because once their trucks were impounded they would be forfeited to the state.
“Chinese nationals forged the documents and signatures of officers so that they can transport the Mukula logs and as I am talking now they are in police custody and many cases will come out against them,” said Ms Kapata.
Ms Kapata said the situation is worrying because Zambia is losing precious species of its trees due to illegal felling which is on the increase around the country especially by the foreign nationals.
She said the Provincial forestry and Zambia police have intensified patrols in all the affected areas because the trend has reached alarming levels.
Ms Kapata said the security wings will not relent in impounding all trucks in order to bring the smuggling of the country’s natural resources to manageable levels.
“We are going to forfeit the vehicles of those Chinese national and will not shield anyone and be it South African, Mozambique or Zambian trucks as long as they are carrying Mukula they will be impounded and forfeited to Government,” she warned.