Mkhululi Ncube, Chronicle Reporter
POLICE in Matabeleland South province have warned farmers against leaving their livestock straying onto the highways saying those that do so risk being prosecuted.
A number of accidents are being recorded on the country’s highways as a result of livestock straying onto the roads.
Government recently erected a boundary fence along the Plumtree-Mutare highway but the boundary fence has been vandalised in some sections hence animals are now straying onto the highway.
Last week, police say 20-year-old Anele Ndlovu from West Nicholson died after his vehicle ploughed into a herd of cattle at the 195km peg along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge road at night.
Matabeleland South Provincial police spokesperson Inspector Mangena said police are worried about the continued presence of cattle on highways.
“The late was driving along the road with one passenger on board while following another car. When they reached the 195km peg, the car in front hit a cow and the late failed to stop and hit the same cow and lost control of the vehicle before hitting two more cows. He was thrown out of the vehicle on impact and he died on the spot,” said Insp Mangena.
She said the passenger was injured.
“We are urging farmers to ensure their livestock does not stray onto highways because many of the accidents are as a result of stray livestock,” she said.
Insp Mangena said under the Roads and Road Traffic regulations, farmers risk being prosecuted for stray livestock.
She said police had so far visited West Nicholson, Collen Bawn, Filabusi and Mawabeni to educate farmers on the importance of keeping their livestock off the road.
Chief Ndondo of Mbembesi whose community is along the Bulawayo- Harare highway, has urged the police to investigate the vandalism of the boundary fence along the highway which was erected a few years ago.
“We have criminals among us who are cutting the fence and people doing this are those who were recently resettled. It is difficult to have people guarding the fence at night. The fence is cut during the night and it is difficult to apprehend these criminals because usually they are armed,” said Chief Ndondo.
He said another major problem is destruction of gates which results in cattle straying onto the highway.
Chief Ndondo said there is a need for a joint effort between the community and police to solve the problem.
“Police must do patrols, investigate and apprehend these people. The fence used in the highways is unique from the ordinary one and if they go to resettlement areas, they will make arrests. Police will tell you that they are short-staffed and have no vehicles,” he said.
Chief Ndondo said under his area it is an offence not to pen cattle during the farming season.
“The law in my area is no livestock must move around unguarded and when the sun sets the rule is pen them because they can also enter into the fields to destroy crops. My people also fear losing their livestock on the highway and on the railway line. If you see cattle roaming free, it can be that they are not from the area or they strayed away from cattle herders,” he said.
Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) acting director of operations, Mr Ernest Muchena said it is important for motorists to drive cautiously when they enter into areas with animals.
“The Zimbabwe highway code clearly state that Zimbabwe is cattle country, therefore the possibility of coming across cattle on the country’s roads is very high,” said Mr Muchena.
He said due to cattle ranching in Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South, most accidents are as a result of stray animals.
Mr Muchena said drivers must reduce speed when approaching animals on the road as their behaviour is unpredictable.