“I rely on my cattle because I am a subsistence farmer. The situation is bad – in the month of July alone, the village lost nine cattle to thieves. We used to leave our cattle roaming free during summer time, but now we are forced to look after them all year round,” said Chokuda.
Locals suspect that the stolen cattle are sold to butcheries in Chitungwiza at a reduced price.
“There are reports that our cattle end up being sold at half price in Chitungwiza, in fact, butchery owners have been fingered in illicit dealings with cattle rustlers,” said Chokuda.
Stock theft has increased over the past few months, with villagers in Chipinge District claiming that their livestock is being sold in neighbouring Mozambique.
“We had cases where the police found out that our beasts were being sold in neighbouring Mozambique. Although the syndicate was thwarted, we suspect that other unscrupulous thieves have emerged since then,” said one villager.
In Chidamoyo village, Chief Dandawa was forced to organise a team of young people who take turns to shepherd cattle all year round.
“We lost a number of beasts to cattle rustlers. Despite reporting the situation to the police, no arrests were made. Then we decided to employ our own ‘police officers,’ and since then we’ve seen a decline in theft,” said village head, Thompson Mutimusakwa.
The government in the past has implemented cattle branding to minimise the movement of cattle. However, the idea has not been successful due to the failure of the authorities to decentralise it to small districts.
Chief Superintendent Justin Mandizha has called on members of the community to herd and pen their cattle daily as most thieves targeted cattle roaming free.
"We also encourage members of the community to put in place measures that can rein in stock theft, especially cattle branding,” said Mandizha.
Stock theft has decreased by 14 percent countrywide between January and June 2011. Police National Co-ordinator Anti-stock Theft Unit Assistant Commissioner, Bernard Dumbura, said since the unit was formed, statistics indicated that stock theft was in decline.
"Evidence on the ground indicates that anti-stock theft operations and activities scored notable achievements," he said.Post published in: News