By A Correspondent-Police in Gwanda have recovered 16 cattle and seven donkeys after a weeklong operation against cattle rustlers in Gwanda District that have terrorised farmers and villagers over the last few months.
A suspect, Prince Dube alias Vusa Mutopini, was arrested for stock theft while 55 others were picked for offences that included public violence after they reportedly attacked livestock owners that were looking for their missing beasts.
The operation, codenamed, Lets Fight Stock Thieves/ Asilwiseni Amasela Ezifuyo, was undertaken by more than 100 police officers, some on horseback, from 26 September.
The 16 cattle recovered are worth US$4 800 while the seven donkeys are valued at $28 700. A car, a Ford Ranger, was left behind by one of the suspected stock thieves as he fled with police in hot pursuit.
In a statement, the Zimbabwe Republic Police confirmed developments regarding the operation.
“The ZRP has intensified an operation code named ‘Lets Fight Stock Thieves/ Asilwiseni Amasela Ezifuyo’. From 26-29/09/21, 16 stolen cattle valued at US$4 800 and seven donkeys valued at $28 700 were recovered at Guyu area, Gwanda. An unregistered Ford Ranger vehicle was also recovered and revenue valued at $12 000 was raised from other offences during the operation,” the statement read.
Acting Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson Sergeant Stanford Mguni told Sunday News that 11 of the cattle had been recovered from suspected rustler Dube.
“Eleven of the cattle and two of the donkeys were freshly branded. All these were recovered from one source while the others were recovered elsewhere,” he said.
After the operation, the recovered cattle were put on parade at Shanyawugwe Shopping Centre for the owners to identify them. Sgt Mguni said so far, five cattle and five donkeys had been identified by their owners.
He said the other 55 people were arrested for attacking cattle owners that were going around searching for their livestock.
Shanyawugwe has earned a reputation as the stock theft “headquarters of the province”. In the past month, there has been sad news circulating on social media relating to massive stock theft incidents in Gwanda District.
In one story farmers from Kafusi in the south western end of Gwanda District, came together and organised a vehicle to transport them around the district in search of their missing cattle.
This was after they had been losing animals in droves. Their search took them to as far as the Makhado area towards Beitbridge where it is alleged that they recovered some of their stolen animals in a feedlot owned by an unnamed farmer.
They had to force entry into the farm as workers denied them entry. Last week, Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi ordered an official inquiry into livestock theft on his country’s border with Zimbabwe.
“The terms of reference for the commission of inquiry is to establish the problem of livestock rustling in the Bobirwa villages along the Botswana/Zimbabwe border and determine the extent of the problem,” a statement accompanying the appointment of the commission read.