•   Costas Const/los   14 Mar 11:55

    By STEVEN ZANDE -

    THE Food Reserve Agency (FRA) yesterday busted another maize smuggling scam in which eight people of Lusaka attempted to steal grain from an FRA storage depot at Mwembeshi in Lusaka’s light industrial area.The suspects targeted to steal 200×50 kilogramme (kg) bags worth K30,000Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda has warned that Government will not relent in bringing culprits involved in maize smuggling to justice.The eight suspects recently connived with security personnel manning the establishment with a scheme to steal the grain and sell the consignment to the outside market.However, alert officers informed the police about the act which was planned for yesterday morning and this led to the attempted theft being thwarted.A check at the scene by a Times of Zambia crew yesterday revealed that the eight men were arrested while loading a five-tonne light track with the consignment.At the time of apprehending the suspects, the truck had been loaded with 80×50 kg bags of maize which had since been seized by the police who also impounded the vehicle.Lusaka Province police chief Nelson Phiri said the suspects were arrested when the police pounced on them after being notified by guards who were guarding the premises.He said police had since launched investigations into the matter to establish the whereabouts of the suspected group leader.“The FRA guards were approached by a man who offered them a considerable amount of money if they allowed him to steal maize from the shed on an agreed day.“However, the guards tricked this man and informed the police about the plan which was interrupted this morning by our protective unit,” he said.FRA chief executive officer Chola Kafwabulula, in an interview yesterday, regretted the incident and re-sounded a warning that the agency would not take maize theft and smuggling lightly.He said yesterday’s incident was serious because it was creating an impression that Government was not sincere about the current food security status.“The agency is treating smuggling of maize and its products seriously because if left unchecked, the vice could create an artificial mealie-meal shortage in the country.“FRA has instituted new measures such as random patrols all aimed at capturing the culprits,” he said.Mr Lubinda, in a separate interview, restated the warning that maize smuggling would not be condoned.“Government is closely monitoring the activities in the maize industry and let me assure the nation that people attempting to smuggle maize will be met by the long arm of the law. Let me also assure the nation that there is no cause for panic as the country is food secure,” he said.Source: http://www.herald.co.zw/zambia-impounds-28-maize-trucks/