BY REX MPHISA
BEITBRIDGE police are combing the border district looking for a suspected female rustler believed to have stolen livestock worth thousands of dollars.
The suspected thief, identified as Sarah Chauke, is in her 50s and lives with disability.
She is alleged to be the gang leader of youths that went around villages in Lutumba stealing livestock.
Chauke is said to have fled in a car after angry villagers stormed her home recently, threatening to burn it down.
She is believed to have skipped to South Africa where she established a ready market for her loot.
Her live-in boyfriend, believed to be a Beitbridge Rural District Council driver, also disappeared in another car, which villagers said was loaded with goat carcasses.
Police have now moved in to avert disaster at Chauke’s Juta homestead; 20km north of the border town after hundreds of villagers from Tshapfushe, Juta, HaGoda, Tshamuswirikiti, and other Lutumba villages bayed for her head.
Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson Inspector Loveness Mangena confirmed the incident and said investigations were already underway.
“I can confirm that we have such a report and investigations are underway,” Mangena said.
At least three suspects believed to be working with Chauke were arrested and are expected in court soon.
One of them was severely assaulted by villagers and he confessed to being involved in several heists engineered by Chauke.
On Monday, villagers demanded a meeting with the officer commanding Beitbridge police, accusing junior officers of treating Chauke with kid gloves.
Traditional leaders also demanded justice. Police have urged all those who lost their livestock to file formal complaints that will be investigated on a case by case basis.
A Lutumba village head and teacher Big Ndlovu who lost 45 goats in February said Chauke arrived at his homestead selling dressed goats.
Another woman said out of 78 goats, she was only left with two. A villager from Tshapfuche said her entire herd of 300 goats was wiped out in one night.
At Chauke’s rural home, 10 deep freezers were found loaded with meat. Goat foetuses and cattle hooves were also recovered at her homestead.