Police in Matabeleland North have so far arrested 156 people in connection with stock theft, a crime that carries a mandatory custodial sentence.
The clampdown on cattle rustlers has seen a 19% decrease in stock theft in the past six months, according to Matabeleland North police spokesperson Inspector Trust Ndlovu.
“This decrease in the stock theft cases in the province is a result of a positive approach by our Anti-Stock Theft Unit,” Ndlovu said. “
The anti-stock theft campaigns are being conducted across the province and especially in areas where cross-border cattle smuggling is occurring regularly.
As police we believe our approach to stock theft has managed to reduce the crime.
“Having this decrease in the cases does not mean we no longer have rustlers pouncing. They are still isolated cases of stock theft in the province.
“We challenge members of the public to continue to support the police in averting stock theft in the province. We also encourage members of the public to always pen their livestock in order to protect them from thieves. They must also put brand marks on their domestic animals for easy identification,” he said.
He said people must demand permits if they see strangers driving or transporting cattle through their areas.
Cases of cattle rustling are rampant in the Zambezi area near Binga where Zambians are said to be stealing and smuggling the beasts from Zimbabwe.
Three Zambians recently appeared before a Binga magistrate for allegedly stealing two beasts from the Binga area and smuggling them across the border.