BY PRESTIGE MUNTANGA
CATTLE farmers in Matabeleland South province have been losing their livestock to rustling syndicates that they believe were working in cahoots with soldiers and police officers.
Farmers told Southern Eye that after some cattle rustlers were caught, they disclosed that they were working for some members of the uniformed forces.
Recently, police in Matabeleland announced that they recovered over 98 stolen cattle and invited farmers to visit showgrounds in Gwanda to identify them.
However, farmers said the apprehended suspects disclosed that they had been sent by members of the security services to steal the cattle.
“There was chaos during the arrest of the accused persons as the police were justifying the thefts of cattle. Those people mentioned that they were sent by some members of the army, police and even ministers to steal livestock,” a farmer said.
“They said they used military vehicles to transport the stolen cattle and goats. The cattle rustlers said soldiers send them to steal livestock and they got a token of appreciation in return,” he said.
Farmers told Southern Eye that since the arrest of the cattle rustlers, no investigations have been made.
Silibaziso Moyo, a farmer, said it was impossible for the cattle rustlers to transport cattle without getting caught.
“We have seen a lot of corruption by security forces, and we need clarity on the issue of cattle theft. Action must be taken as no one is above the law. If the security forces are linked to this crime, then they need to take responsibility for their actions,” Moyo said.
He said last month, Zimbabwe Republic Police officer commanding Gwanda District, Chief Superintendent Mandlenkosi Moyo promised that the police would attend to the complaints of rampant cattle rustling in the area.
Zimbabwe National Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Alphios Makotore declined to comment on the matter.
“I will not say anything on this issue.
“I think the police are better placed to disclose any information about that,” Makotore said.
Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson Inspector Loveness Mangena said: “I have not received any report or complaint of stock theft which implicates police officers.
“If people suspect that police might have had a hand in their stolen stock, may they feel free to report and we will not hesitate to investigate such issues. We will let the law take its course on those found wanting,” Mangena said.
Guyu and Shanyawugwe villagers alleged that sometime this year, they formed a neighbour’s watch committee to deal with stocktheft, which was, however, not approved by the police.