Abattoirs fuelling stocktheft — Claim

24 Jan, 2022 - 00:01 0 Views
Abattoirs fuelling stocktheft — Claim Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi

The Chronicle

Yoliswa Dube-Moyo, Matabeleland South Bureau Chief
“I KNEW something was off when I was told to bring my beasts to the abattoir at 1AM. Why would anyone be buying cattle at such odd hours is what I kept asking myself,” said Mr Mvelo Mpofu, a livestock farmer based in Gwanda District, Matabeleland South Province.

He said it was apparent that the reason why the abattoir was operating at night was because some of the cattle it was buying would have been stolen.

“You can’t afford not being there when your beasts are being vetted. If you dare blink, you can be told your cow was a certain weight which might fetch less money. At times you’re told the cow’s liver, for example, has been condemned for one reason or the other,” said Mr Mpofu.

He said abattoirs pay according to the net weight and the age of the cattle.

Mr Mpofu keeps about 15 cattle on communal land and sells them only to meet pressing needs.

He recently sold a beast for US$400 to an abattoir to finance a building project he is currently undertaking.

“Some farmers sell their cattle directly to abattoirs, while others take their animals to auctions. The majority of farmers sell to traders at lower prices than they would get from auction houses or abattoirs, to avoid the cost and inconvenience of transporting their cattle. In this instance, I preferred the abattoir because I needed to make a quick sale,” said Mr Mpofu.

In reality, it is not the farmers who come out with obvious gains, but those to whom the cattle are sold.
It has since emerged that some abattoirs are enablers of stocktheft as they do not seek the necessary paperwork before buying cattle.

Farmers continue to lose their livestock to stock thieves with some of the culprits suspected to be working in cahoots with officials who assist them in clearing the stolen animals. In some instances, the stock thieves slaughter the beasts in the bushes and carry the meat. Some of the meat is allegedly supplied to butcheries while some of it is sold to the public from people’s houses.

This has threatened the source of livelihood for many families in Matabeleland South Province which is a cattle ranching area.

Recently, 95 cattle worth US$60 000 were stolen from the Cold Storage Company (CSC)’s Dubani Ranch in Colleen Bawn with police in Matabeleland South Province having launched a manhunt for a suspect, Brighton Siziba, who was allegedly involved in the theft of the cattle between April 28 and November 21 last year.

Police recovered seven branded cattle valued at US$4 200 from the suspect’s kraal.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the incident, saying police were appealing for information which may lead to the arrest of Siziba.

“The cattle were positively identified by the complainant and the suspect fled from the scene. Anyone with information should contact any nearest police station,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.

Boustead Beef consultant, Mr Reginald Shoko said stock theft was a national problem which police have to tame as it affects the livestock value chain and economic revival.

“At the moment cattle rustling is a threat to livestock developers across the country and we need cops to be on top of the situation. As it stands, we have stock theft incidents almost every two days in our various farms across all the regions. Also, you have to remember that we are not just keeping ordinary cattle, but high breed with good quality beef, which in itself is an investment,” said Mr Shoko.

“With us there are a lot of things that would be lost when these cattle are stolen. It also affects raw materials of other industries. After stealing these cattle, there is no value addition on the animal yet with us, we don’t discard anything.

The skin of the animal is processed by the leather sector and other downstream industries. So, people have to understand that they are not just stealing cattle, but are affecting the country’s economic performance.”

The nine-year mandatory jail sentence for stock theft does not seem to be deterrent enough, as daring culprits keep breaking the law.

Police in Gwanda recently arrested a businessman and butchery operator from the Konongwe farming area for alleged stock theft after the recovery of live and slaughtered cattle.

The cattle were recovered at Irimai Muringa’s farm.

Villagers pounced on Muringa and his employees following a tip-off from neighbours and recovered meat from five of their eight stolen beasts.

Chief Mathe from Gwanda said the problem of stock theft cuts across the province and there was a need for stepped up police operations.

“Stock theft is rampant, although there are places which have been identified as hotspots. There is a need for police to work with communities to rid the area of stock thieves,” he said.

Police continually urge farmers to pen their cattle to ensure their safety and not allow them to stray into highways as they cause accidents. Farmers are also urged to brand their cattle and to join village anti-stocktheft and business against stocktheft committees as these structures are important in assisting police to come up with strategies to safeguard livestock. — @Yolisswa

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