Crime & Courts

US$5k reward for info on cattle rustling gang

US$5k reward for info on cattle rustling gang

MANICALAND livestock farmers should be more vigilant in looking after their cattle – which are key components of agriculture – as the evil of stock-theft continues unabated, thereby dealing a lethal blow to efforts to protect and grow the provincial herd.

A more radical and innovative approach is now needed to eradicate the vice and flash out syndicates of rustlers that have made stock-theft their core business.

While the evil was confined to communal and resettled farmers, lately, the criminals have been targeting commercial cattle farmers.

The culprits last week pounced at one of the Nyabadza family farms, about 10km on the outskirts of Rusape along the Nyanga Road, where they slaughtered and skinned seven special pedigree beasts whose value is estimated at US$15 000.

The area is principally a commercial farming area, and regards livestock as a key enabler in wealth creation.

The suspects, who are fugitives from justice, peeled off the flesh and left behind the bones, heads, offals and hides, thereby raising strong suspicions that the steak was destined for bulky sausage or mince manufacturing outlets.

The slaughtered breeds include bulls, heifers, steers and in-calf cows.

The aggrieved Nyabadza family has since offered a reward of US$5 000 for anyone with information leading to the suspects’ arrest.

The family’s spokesperson, Mr Basil Nyabadza expressed optimism that the culprits behind the ghastly act will be arrested.

“When gangsters raid kraals at night and slaughter livestock on site and carry the carcases away – surely it should be a cause of concern for all livestock farmers.

“We witnessed a military style livestock execution at one of our properties and lost seven cattle at once. We strongly believe someone somewhere must know something about this ghastly act.

“The identification of the farm and such mass slaughter points to a team work approach, and our security should work hard to eradicate this menace.

“Someone among us know something, and as a family we are offering a reward of US$5 000 to anyone who can supply vital information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the culprits.

“Obviously there was a local person who provided intelligence and logistics to the culprits,” he said.

Manicaland police spokesperson, Inspector Nobert Muzondo said investigations are in progress and appealed to those with information to contact the police.

“It is true that seven cattle belonging to Mr Nyabadza were stolen and skinned in the kraal.

“We have deployed heavily and are investigating the matter with a view to arrest the suspects. Anyone with information leading to the suspects’ arrest should approach their nearest police station,” he said.

Inspector Muzondo said indications are that the meat was destined for Harare, and they have increased stop-and-search roadblocks along the route.

Cattle rustlers are wreaking havoc

“The suspects used the same method of peeling off the flesh and leaving bones, hides and offals at the scene. We strongly suspect that the meat was taken to butcheries in Harare,” he said.

Inspector Muzondo urged farmers to establish kraals in one area for easy night patrols by the local security apparatus.

He said farmers should be cognisant of unknown persons roaming in the area, unknown vehicles or camping activities in the area.

He said they should also detect changes in the normal behaviour of local employees and strangers visiting their property without proper explanations.

Inspector Muzondo implored farmers to foster good relationships with their employees, as well as taking them to the police for background checks before engaging them.

Livestock expert, Professor Joseph Kamuzhanje said farmers should cushion themselves against stock-theft by insuring their cattle.

“The community policing mechanism needs strengthening because it is impossible for strangers to pounce and commit a crime of this magnitude in an area without someone knowing.

“Farmers also need to innovate around the structures they keep their animals and make it very difficult for an intruder to break in.

“There is still need for the development of an all-encompassing traceable system in order to promote cattle safety.

“Consumers should refrain from buying meat and meat products that do not have any official labelling.

“Eating uninspected products is one way of spreading diseases.

“Government health inspectors should increase their rates of inspection. Anyone found with uninspected meat or meat products should be imprisoned using deterrent sentences,” he said.

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