Zim rustlers pounce on Botswana cattle


CATTLE rustlers from Zimbabwe have been accused of stealing 118 heads of cattle from Botswana’s Semolale area in the past three weeks.

The Botswana farmers claimed that efforts to track down the livestock were frustrated by Zimbabwean police who accused them of illegally entering the country.

One of the affected farmers, Goja Dikinya from Samolale area, on Friday told Southern Eye that they suspected Zimbabwean police were involved in the racket as they allowed the cattle to cross the border without permits.

“Two weeks ago (end of January) they stole 46 cattle, and last week they stole 72 heads of cattle. We followed them to Zimbabwe, but when on the Zimbabwean side, we were threatened and harassed by the police.

“They said if we had no passports we were in the country illegally. They said when we enter Zimbabwe we should carry passports,” Dikinya said.

“I think these criminals work with police who allow them to visit our country to steal our cattle and promise to protect them. It is so painful to just lose such a huge head of cattle.”

Botswana farmers tracked their cattle driven by thieves up to the Nhwali area in Gwanda.

Matabeleland South Anti-Stock Theft Association chairperson Victor Sibanda said they recently worked with the Botswana farmers in recovering some of the cattle stolen from Botswana. Sibanda expressed concern over the police’s ineptitude in dealing with the criminals and bringing them to book.

“Our aim now is to work together with the Botswana team and share information blocking all the routes.

“We are still in talks about the issue, but we will take some drastic measures so that the government responds.

“We cannot keep on losing our property to thieves. If the government is not willing to intervene, people will do whatever it takes to make sure that our livestock is safe,” Sibanda said.

Matabeleland South police spokesperson Inspector Loveness Mangena referred Southern Eye to national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi who could not be reached for comment yesterday.

In 2020, over 180 cattle and 109 donkeys from Mashaba in Gwanda and Beula in Kezi were shot in Botswana after they strayed into the neighbouring country.

In 2006, Botswana introduced a shoot-to-kill policy to destroy all cattle that strayed into their territory.

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