Govt warns cattle rustlers

The government has issued a stern warning to cattle rustlers who have been wreaking havoc in the country, especially in Matabeleland South where hundreds of stolen cattle were recovered last month.

Farmers managed to locate their stolen cattle in Shanyawugwe and Makhado near Beitbridge following a blitz by police on rustlers who had been terrorising the province.

Police officers and villagers were reportedly heavily assaulted by the suspected cattle thieves who tried to hinder them from accessing their areas.

Speaking during a post-cabinet media briefing in the capital Tuesday, Information Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, said the government was disturbed by the development.

“Cabinet has also noted with concern, the proliferation of cattle rustling and wishes to warn the perpetrators of this crime that the law will take its course,” warned Mutsvangwa. “Appropriate legislation will be put in place to stem this vice, deterrent action will be taken against errant players across the entire cattle value chain, including the revocation of operating licences for errant meat retailers and forfeiture of vehicles and other property for the transportation of stolen livestock.”

Meanwhile, as part of measures to curb cross-border stock theft neighbouring Botswana has since appointed a commission of inquiry to inquire into the escalating problem.

This comes at a time when the two countries have been experiencing numerous cases of cattle rustling, which has resulted in communal farmers along the border losing livestock.

Botswana’s acting President Slumber Tsogwane recently appointed a nine-member commission of inquiry to investigate stock thefts happening in the Bobirwa constituency, Botswana and along Tuli River in Matabeleland South province.

“Notice is hereby given that in accordance with section 2 as read with section 16 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, His Excellency the Acting President Tsogwane has issued a commission of inquiry into allegations of livestock rustling in some villages in the Bobirwa constituency along the Botswana-Zimbabwe border,” read the notice.

Cattle rustling has caused tension between the two countries for the past decade after Botswana introduced a shoot-to-kill policy on any Zimbabwean livestock that strays into the neighbouring country’s territory.

Botswana has defended the policy saying it is meant to stop the spread of foot and mouth disease.

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