BY CRAIG MOYO
LIVESTOCK farmers in West Nicholson, Matabeleland South province, who have lost about 100 beasts to cattle rustlers in past few months, are calling on the police to increase patrols in the area to curb stocktheft cases.
Most of the affected farmers, whose cattle graze at Mashura Ranch, suspect their beasts are being sold to abattoirs in Bulawayo.
Lovemore Ndlovu, a victim, said they had failed to recover most of their stolen livestock.
“I lost 16 cattle in February and we went to the police to report the case. A week later, two cattle rustlers were arrested. They had tampered with the cattle branding marks and put their own. They transported the stolen cattle in a truck to an abattoir with the intention to sell them and the police went to the abattoir to recover the animals with multiple brand marks. I recovered eight of my cattle,” he said.
He said police should intensify their patrols to reduce cases of cattle rustling.
“Police should inspect trucks transporting livestock on the Gwanda-Beitbridge Highway and check their permits and police clearances because some cattle rustlers could be forging the documents,” said Ndlovu.
Contacted for comment, Matabeleland South police spokesperson Inspector Philisani Ndebele said they had arrested a number of cattle rustlers and they would continue to inspect abattoirs to verify their cattle clearance documents.
“We are appealing to the public who may have information on the suspects who have continued to steal cattle in the West Nicholson area to report to the police. As in recent cases, the community has been of great help by alerting the police. We also appeal to the farmers to ensure that they closely monitor their animals in order to avoid losing them to cattle rustlers since, in some cases, farmers take their cattle to grazing lands and they leave them unattended,” Ndebele said.
“It is the farmers’ responsibility to protect their cattle, but we will continue to be on the lookout for cattle being transported at night.”