Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Correspondent
POLICE in Bulawayo have shot and injured a suspected cattle rustler after he ignored orders from the law enforcement agents to stop.
The injured suspect was rushed to a local hospital in the city where he is recovering.
National Police Spokesmen Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the incident.
Asst Comm Nyathi said it has become modus operandi for cattle rustlers to stash a stolen carcass under firewood and masquerade as firewood poachers.
He added that Pumula had become a hot spot for stock theft as cattle from neighbouring villages stary into the suburb, where criminals involved in cattle rustling pounce on the animals.
Most of the meat from the stolen beasts is sold in Bulawayo.
“This shooting incident involves a suspect who was transporting firewood and refused to stop. He drove away and, in the process, there was a chase and unfortunately police had to fire some shots. He got injured and is admitted at a local hospital,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
“People should not steal firewood and should not engage in criminal activities and must not flee from police officers. They must not try to evade police check points and must follow the normal procedures. It’s really unfortunate but at the end of the day the police have to do their work. The public should just appreciate that no one should engage in criminal activities,” he said.
Asst Comm Nyathi sad police officers fired warning shots as per routine, however the suspect did not heed the call to stop.
“So far we have established that this person was found carrying firewood and that firewood was illegally taken from the Pumula surroundings. Police officers fired warning shots, but he did not stop, so they have to do their job. Remember last week we had another incident where city of Bulawayo rangers were involved in a shootout with firewood poachers and possibly stock theft suspects. That area is becoming notorious for criminal acts,” said Assistant Commissioner Nyathi.
“Pumula area and areas surrounding areas, police have attended to cases of stock theft, where people come at night and kill cattle from neighbouring villages near Pumula, where they load the beasts in trucks and the put firewood n top, making it appear like they are just carrying firewood. They then drive into Bulawayo CBD at night and during the day, they sell the meat. One of the complainants who was a victim of stock theft made report and police where then on a patrol in view of laying a trap for these suspects,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.