Police sucked in cattle rustling case

A cattle rancher from Bambadzi village in Plumtree who lost some of his livestock to rustlers has accused the police of scuttling the investigations due to the alleged involvement of police officer in the case.

Three suspects Omen Nkomo, Bernard Sibanda and Constable Trevor Munyuki based in Tsholotsho were arrested following the theft of Chebukani Nleya’s said 11 cattle, consisting of six oxen and five heifers all branded Y1A2A1 at Mabhongwane grazing land on August 16, 2021.

The case was reported to the police but Nleya says he was later informed that the docket had gone missing.

Some of Nleya’s stolen livestock were transported 120 km to Skente Village, Tsholotsho where one of the accused is based.

Chebukani Nleya

The suspects appeared at Plumtree magistrate’s court but later, one of the suspects reportedly skipped the country.

“Omen Nkomo from Skente Village in Tsholotsho is one who ran away and did not attend the second court appearance. It is believed he is now in Johannesburg, South Africa while the other culprit is Bernard Sibanda of Nemane Village. So there were only two suspects who were charged, the police officer and Sibanda,” he said.

According to Nleya, the suspects were arrested in Tsholotsho but since the case was handled by police in Madlambuzi, the court case was held at Plumtree.

“However, I question how the legal system is operating because this is a sensitive case, it must be handled with care but there is some laxity even in dealing with suspects, where one has managed to run away. I was also informed the original docket went missing,” Nleya said.

Nleya said he made a report to the police on August 17 at Maitengwe border post where the next day police officers teamed up with him to make a follow up on his cattle.

During their investigations, Nleya managed to identify fixe of his oxen at Umguza abattoir, that were to be slaughtered and police stopped the exercise.

“At the abattoir, police demanded the livestock clearance certificate and the movement of animal permit for the said animals they received. Investigations revealed that of the five recovered animals, three were found on two ZRP forms, which listed the owner/seller and the buyer/ receiver (names withheld),” he said.

Nleya claimed the clearance of the above stock was conducted by one Constable Trevor Munyuki of Tsholotsho on the day the cattle was stolen.

“Munyuki was arrested. Police managed to pick up the individual who was listed as the owner who said he did not buy the said animals and was not even present when the clearance was done as he was in Bulawayo. He, however, stated that one of the accused had asked to hire a truck to ferry his cattle to Umguza which he gave,” he said.

In their investigations, police lured one of the accused in Bulawayo, where he was arrested.

“On being interrogated, accused one revealed that the five cattle were brought to him by accused two and they both connived to have the cattle cleared at the police using stock cards of two other persons (names withheld as police were still conducting investigations), which were in possession of accused one. The cattle were cleared by the Police in his homestead in the absence of both the above-mentioned owners and buyers,” narrated Nleya, who expressed deep interest in the case.

“Livestock theft is serious as it takes away years of our work.”

Police in Matabeleland South said they could not comment as the matter was now before the courts.

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