Freeman Razemba Crime Reporter
At least 20 cattle are reportedly stolen daily by rustlers countrywide, with the police advising farmers to brand their livestock to avoid losses. Police Anti-Stock Theft National Co-ordinator Senior Assistant Commissioner Erasmus Makodza yesterday said they were worried by such cases as this was affecting the national herd.
He said some of the stolen cattle were smuggled out of the country while others were sold to unscrupulous businesspeople.
About 90 percent of cattle stolen do not have owners’ brand marks.
“According to our statistics, about 20 cattle are stolen on a daily basis countrywide. This means that 600 cattle are stolen on a monthly basis and about 7 200 yearly.”
He said the country’s national herd had 5,4 million cattle and if people did not take heed of the branding exercise, the national herd would be affected.
Snr Asst Comm Makodza is leading a team of senior officers on a tour of provinces where they are conducting meetings with police officers and addressing people, traditional leaders, businesspeople, Government officials and farmers on the need to brand their livestock.
“As police, we have always put in place adequate measures to curb stocktheft and that is why we are embarking on these programmes to educate and to urge people to brand their livestock,” Snr Asst Comm Makodza said.
He said police were dealing with hard-core criminals who were stealing livestock in order to enrich themselves.
He cited cases where they busted syndicates that were attempting to smuggle cattle out of the country using trucks.
Snr Asst Comm Makodza said in some of the cases, the stock- thieves tried to use illegal crossing points, while in other cases they had fake livestock clearing documents.
“In one of the cases there is a herd of cattle that was stolen and smuggled into Zambia and due to the fact that they did not have brand marks, the owners have failed to identify them after we recently visited the neighbouring country with them.
“However, we are still making efforts and liaising with our counterparts in Zambia to resolve the case and make sure that the owners get their cattle back,” he said.
Chairperson of the Business Against Stock Theft Forum Mr Aggrey Matashu said they were worried that some cattle that did not have personal brand marks were also auctioned by rural district councils after the owners failed to identify them.
According to the law, recovered stray cattle will be auctioned after three months if no one fails to come forward and claims them.
About 37 stray cattle were recently auctioned in Hurungwe District because the owners either failed to identify them or they did not come forward to claim them. “We would, however, like to urge people to brand their livestock so that it would be easy to identify them when recovered,” he said.
He said they would continue to work with police to ensure that all the people took heed of the branding exercise.