Five accused persons: Umaru Kuyateh, Hassan Bangura, Yusufu Fofanah, Sheku Sesay and Abdul Kargbo, all of Kenema City have on Monday 8th August, made their last appearance before presiding Magistrate, A.S.Fidawi at the Magistrate Court in Kenema City.
The prosecuting officer, ASP Sahr Didi Lahai of the Kenema Police Division, told the court that the accused persons were arrested on the 3rd of August at the Kambui hill reserve, through information provided by staff of the Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO).
They were later taken to the Kenema Police Division by the SALWACO staff in Kenema city.
According to ASP Lahai, the accused persons were found mining gold around the Kambui forest reserve catchment area.
The police subsequently charged them to court with the offence of illicit mining, contrary to section 18 (2) of Cap 198 as repealed and replaced by section 4 of Act no. 46 of 1969.
They were found guilty of the offence and each of them was fined five million Leones or to serve two years imprisonment.
Before handing down his hammer on the accused persons, Magistrate Fidawi said their activities in the forest have brought water shortage in the city even though it is a raining season and for closing the tap at the water catchment.
Most people in the court room expressed happiness over the tough action taken by the magistrate against the accused persons, saying that the action will act as a deterrent to people who want to engage in illegal activities in the forest.
By Saffa Moriba