Social media appeal helps villagers recover stolen cattle

A social media appeal helped Bhambadzi villagers in Bulilima District, Plumtree, to track down and recover their stolen cattle.

The 10 cattle, belonging to two villagers were stolen in Mabhongane grazing lands in December and transported to Tsholotsho.  

Speaking to CITE, Chebukani Nleya who was part of the search team said social media played a pivotal role in helping villagers locate their livestock.

“We lost 10 cattle in our grazing lands near Maitengwe, we posted on social media and started the search which led us to Dlamini in Tsholotsho. The villagers confronted the accused person Bhekabantu Dube and questioned him how he managed to move the livestock and it was established that he had no permit or a letter from the village head to prove that it was his livestock,” said Nleya.

He said Dube told the villagers that the cattle were an inheritance from his father and they were given to him by his brothers in Garia. 

“The villagers managed to take the pictures of the livestock and spread them across social media and we managed to see the pictures and recognized that they belonged to our area in Bhambadzi, thus when they caught him and effected community arrest,” said Nleya.

He said the search team went to Tsholotsho on  4 January and managed to identify the cattle.

“We took the accused person to Maitengwe police and he also implicated another person Niason Ncube in Garia 1.”

He added, “Ncube is the one who revealed all the information and we recovered the 10 different livestock tags which were hidden in his house and we also discovered four cattle which were left with him”.

Nleya said the search team also discovered that the other three cattle were slaughtered and the meat was kept in Ncube’s house. 

“So all in all we recovered seven cattle, three in Dlamini and four in Garia 1, the other three were slaughtered.”

“As a community, we are worried that we have so many pending cases of livestock theft. Some of the accused persons got bail and ran away, we are hoping that since in this case we have all the information, the criminals will be sentenced and justice will prevail because we have lost livestock all leading us to Tsholotsho,” said Nleya.

Contacted for a comment, Matabeleland South police spokesperson Inspector Loveness Mangena said they received the report and arrested the accused persons and they were sent to court and remanded in custody until 20 January.

“We are advising villagers not to buy meat sold in buckets because one of the cows was slaughtered and sold to villagers, they should not buy uninspected meat, they will be buying their stolen cows,” she said.

Inspector Mangena also advised villagers to form village anti-stock theft crime liaison committees as the police work with them to curb stock theft.

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