By Nqobile Tshili
Police in Matabeleland South have recovered 61 stolen cattle worth about US$30 000 in Bulilima District and arrested three suspects, one of them a former teacher.
Police arrested Keeper Ncube (69), a former teacher and ex-stock thief convict, Bernard Moyo (48) and Killion Moyo (46) following a week long anti-stock theft operation in Bezu, Tjangwa and Mlomwe under Chief Kandana in Bulilima District.
The operation under code name ‘Mombe wakazitola poni’ (where did you get the cattle) is still ongoing.
On Monday, scores of villagers from Bulilima gathered at Plumtree Town Pound Master pan hoping to identify their stolen beasts.
There were more people seeking their stolen cattle than the recovered animals.
From the 61 recovered cattle, only 31 were positively identified by their owners leaving scores of villagers disappointed.
The Officer Commanding Bulilima-Mangwe District, Chief Superintendent Kenneth Thebe, said the operation was a major breakthrough in their anti-stock theft campaign.
“With members of the public, we had an operation known as mombe wakazitola poni. We have since recovered 61 cattle and 31 of them have been positively identified by their owners.
“We have also arrested three suspects under Chief Kandana area. One of the suspects is a former teacher and stock thief ex-convict. This operation is still ongoing as we want to deal with stock theft syndicates,” said Chief Supt Thebe.
“Some of the cases date back to 2014 so we suspect more cattle will be recovered as we continue with our operation. The suspects were stealing young heifers that are yet to be branded and selling them.”
He said those missing their cattle should visit Plumtree Police Station for assistance.
Chief Supt Thebe said police can only be effective if they get co-operation from members of the public.
“We have what we call community policing where we are sending back investigations to members of the public. They assist us with investigations and tell us who is doing what because crimes occur in their areas,” he said.
Chief Supt Thebe said community engagement in fighting crime has started to bear fruits.
He said since they started crime awareness campaigns, murder and rape cases have declined in his policing district.
Addressing villagers who had converged to identify their missing cattle, the Officer-in-Charge of Plumtree Police Station, Chief Inspector Rosemary Mangena, said cops were on the lookout for claimants in the identification of recovered stolen beasts.
“We want to warn chancers who would want to falsely claim ownership of recovered cattle.
“Those who would have identified their stolen cattle will be required to bring forward a witness to confirm the ownership of the beasts. But if it’s discovered that they both lied in their testimony they will be charged and arrested for falsifying information and stock theft,” said Chief Insp Mangena.
She said police will even opt for the DNA identification of animals if some of the cases are too complicated. The Chronicle