Chief Hobodo of Mangwe, Matabeleland South has urged the government to return to traditional leaders the powers to try stock theft cases in their areas of jurisdiction arguing that could help weed out cattle rustlers out of communities and bring justice in such matters.
This follows an increase in stock theft cases in Matabeleland South which has seen villagers in the province form anti-crime committees targeted at cattle rustlers.
Speaking to CITE at his traditional court after a meeting on stock theft on Friday, Chief Hobodo said it was high time the government gave them that authority which chiefs exercised prior to independence.
“This is an issue that many chiefs are currently talking about, especially in Matabeleland South where stock theft is rampant,” said Chief Hobodo.
“If the government could return to chief powers they had yesterday as we would see chiefs during the Smith regime try stock theft cases. They would try such cases and penalise cattle rustlers and people would fear.”
He further said: “Thieves would not just steal livestock willy-nilly. That was because chiefs meant serious business. But today as chiefs we are even ashamed because we have been stripped of our powers. We arrest people and hand them over to the police who later release them after paying bribes.”
The chief said if they were given back the powers to try stock theft cases, it would be difficult for cattle rustlers to bribe them.
“When it comes to chiefs no bribes can be accepted because we lead people, we wipe their tears to ensure people live together peacefully,” he said.
“To which chief can you then pay a bribe? That is why we request the government to give us those powers. We work with the police, we do not hate them, they are our children but this young generation of police officers is very corrupt.”
He added: “They (police) collaborate with cattle rustlers, they are the ones again who do clearances in the bush to facilitate movement of cattle. That’s why we are saying the government should give us those powers so we can eliminate this corruption. Corruption will never be eliminated until the government accedes to our request.”