Freeman Razemba Crime Reporter
Police officers who connive with thieves to steal livestock from farmers will be fired and face the full wrath of law, a senior police officer said yesterday. Addressing a stakeholders meeting in Karoi yesterday, Police Anti-Stock Theft National Co-ordinator Senior Assistant Commissioner Erasmus Makodza said they had put in place measures to ensure that all officers caught on the wrong side of the law would be dealt with.
“We have been on record saying all those found conniving with criminals or involved in any nefarious activities will face the full wrath of the law. We have a number of cases where some officers have been arrested for engaging in nefarious activities,” he said.
Snr Asst Comm Makodza encouraged all stakeholders to join the Business Stock Theft Forum (BAST) to curb stock theft.
He said the forum was initiated by police for the purposes of sharing good business ethics in the livestock and meat industries.
“Members of the forum are kept updated with new regulations in the meat and livestock industries. The members of the BAST Forum should educate communities where they buy their livestock about the dangers of selling their stock to unregistered livestock dealers,” he said.
Snr Asst Comm Makodza said anyone who wanted to deal in buying and selling livestock business should register with the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA), a Government body mandated to regulate the agricultural sector.
He said they had noted that some of the butcheries and abattoir operators accepted livestock from unregistered agents.
Some of these agents tend to be cattle rustlers.
He said they were also concerned with the sale of uninspected meat coming from beasts slaughtered under trees instead of abattoirs.
“From now onwards, if anyone is arrested selling uninspected meat, it will be treated as stock- theft. During the investigations, the butchery or restaurant should be closed, meat to be condemned and destroyed. If it is discovered that the meat is from stocktheft case, the butchery operator will be charged with stock theft and liable to mandatory sentence of nine to 25 years,” Snr Asst Comm Makodza said.
“We also have repeat offenders of offences related to the Public Health Act such as operating without licences, handling meat or food without valid medical certificates, no running water, failure to put on proper dressing like headgear and aprons. Such people should be prosecuted and custodial sentences imposed to safeguard the general public from consuming hazardous meat products.”
Snr Asst Comm Makodza urged rural district councils to establish pounds in every village for easy identification of stray livestock.
He said in the event of public auctions, they should make it a policy to notify community leaders such as chiefs, village heads, councillors, school heads and church leaders at least 14 days before the auction.
Traffic police officers were also urged to check the transportation of livestock and meat when manning roadblocks.
“We urge them to vigorously check all necessary documentation needed for the transportation of livestock or meat. Where there are issues which they need further investigations or clarifications, the Anti-Stock Theft Unit should be engaged,” he said.
Snr Asst Comm Makodza said straying of livestock on highways was also a cause for concern as people and animals were being killed because of some reckless livestock owners.