Freeman Razemba Crime Reporter
Police National Anti-Stock Theft Unit expressed concern over an increase in cross border stock-theft.
Since December last year, more than 40 cattle were reportedly stolen in some parts of the country and smuggled to neighbouring countries through illegal crossing points.
Anti-Stock Theft Unit National Co-ordinator Senior Assistant Commissioner Erasmus Makodza said most of the cattle were stolen from grazing lands.
In Mukumbura area, villagers had a dispute with their Mozambican counterparts involving ownership of a herd of 16 unbranded cattle.
In light of such incidents, Government and their Mozambican counterparts agreed through the Resolutions of the 8th Session of the Zimbabwe-Mozambique Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security to brand all cattle located along the borders by the year 2017.
However, some farmers are not interested in such programmes and have been resisting.
Most of them are reportedly saying the branding exercise is a police programme.
To raise awareness, a team of senior officers led by the National Anti-Stock Theft Unit Assistant Commissioner (administration) Jimmy Khumalo, is visiting some of the areas along the country’s borders.
In an interview, Asst Comm Khumalo said the visits were meant to sensitise the police and communities in the affected areas on the need to brand their cattle.
“The visit is in partial fulfillment of the agreement arising from the resolutions that were made between Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
“All we are saying is that all the cattle within 50 kilometres from the borders should be branded with personal brand marks for easy identification and traceability,” he said.
Farmers should embrace the cattle branding programmes being undertaken by the Government and police as this will assist them in identifying their cattle when either stolen or lost.
The Government through the Veterinary and Livestock Department is contributing through the introduction of zonal brands that will further identify cattle in particular province, district or dip tank.
These brands will assist the control of cattle movement as a way of monitoring and prevention of the spread diseases.
Farmers should acquire branding certificates and irons.
This helps in safeguarding stock from theft as cattle rustlers are unlikely to target branded cattle. Personal brands help solve disputes over ownership wrangles.
They also serve as a modem of traceability, which is internationally recognized.In November last year, the Zimbabwe Republic Police launched a campaign to encourage farmers to brand their livestock to curb thefts.
Speaking during the launch, Assistant Commissioner in Charge of Crime and Operations in Chitungwiza District (Mashonaland East) Khumbula Ndebele said the campaign was part of the police efforts to promote the growth of the national herd.
“The ZRP, as a critical player in the implementation of the economic blueprint, Zim-Asset, has been doing its best to preserve the national herd. While several strategies exist to ensure that the national herd is not depleted through stocktheft, cattle branding has proved to be one of the other measures,” he said.
“It is, therefore, imperative that farmers embrace this initiative and prevent unnecessary losses. The ZRP committed itself to continue assisting farmers to obtain personal brand certificates and also to assist those with personal brand certificates to acquire branding irons.”
Asst Comm Ndebele said there was a decrease in the number of cattle stolen in the province.
For example, between January and September 2015, the province recorded six cases as compared to 12 recorded in the same period in 2014, giving a 50 percent decrease.
There was also a marginal decrease in the number of cattle stolen.
Seven cattle were stolen in the period January and September 2015 compared to 17 stolen during the same period in 2014, giving a decrease of 58 percent.
He urged farmers to insure their livestock against any losses. The provincial veterinary officer on brands, Mrs Kudzai Chinyoka, emphasized the importance of branding all cattle.
“This initiative helps all the farmers in the prevention of the spread of diseases as branded cattle can be easily identified by the areas they originate from,” she said.
Police announced putting adequate security measures to curb cases of cattle smuggling along the country’s borders.
Zimbabwe and Mozambique have since agreed that all people living close to national borders brand their cattle by the end of next year.
Speaking during the launch of the National Cattle Branding Campaign held at Murombedzi Growth Point In March 2011, Police Deputy Commissioner-General (operations) Innocent Matibiri said the campaign code-named Cattle Branding/Muchiso Pamombe/Uphau Enko-meni was an eloquent testimony of Government’s commitment to safeguard and enhance the growth of the national herd.
“It is without doubt that, from time immemorial, livestock has remained a dependable source of livelihood across generations. Admittedly, it continues to be a source of draught power, a symbol of wealth and more importantly, a huge national investment vehicle,” he said back then.
Farmers should however take heed and brand their cattle as they either risk losing them to rustlers or they might be auctioned after not being identified.