25 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Senior Policeman Up for Stock Theft

A senior police officer based in Kwekwe is expected to appear in court soon in connection with a stock theft case in which a Midlands farmer lost 17 head of cattle.

The police officer, a senior assistant inspector, is being jointly charged with a Kwekwe-based farmer and his nephew.

The case was supposed to have been heard at the Kwekwe Magistrates Courts on Thursday but was "suspended until further notice".

Allegations are that sometime in 2011, the farmer teamed up with his nephew and workers at his farm in Kwekwe rural and stole cattle from the neighbouring Doon Farm owned by 49-year-old James Matemayi.

It is alleged the workers would feed the cattle on molasses and stock feed, strategically throwing the cattle food around in such a way that the beasts ended up in a kraal in the accused's farm.

The workers would then secure the entrance to the kraal once they felt they had enticed an adequate number of beasts.

Allegations are that the police officer would then go to inspect the animals and provide the farmer with livestock clearance certificates.

The certificates are normally issued by the police after thorough investigations to authenticate the ownership of the cattle before any transactions and movement of livestock.

It is alleged the accused farmer would then transport the beasts to an abattoir in Kwekwe town.

Matemayi claims he lost five bulls, five cows and seven calves in the operation.

He reported the trio to Kwekwe and Gweru police after receiving a tip off from some of the accused farmer's employees who also wrote witness's statements detailing how they carried out the operation.

A senior officer in police's anti-stock theft unit confirmed the case was reported under docket number 72/09/11, which was forwarded to Kwekwe Magistrates' Courts.

However, there are fears that the case could be swept under the carpet as other police officers are said to be working flat out to block the accused officer's prosecution.

Efforts to get a comment from the accused police officer were fruitless last week.

Acting officer commanding police in the Midlands Province, Assistant Commissioner Learn Ncube, said he would contact police in Kwekwe for details regarding the case.

Earlier in the year, police national coordinator for anti-stock theft, Bernard Dumbura said incidents of stock theft and illegal movement of cattle were rampant.

Dumbura told the media that some people who bought cattle bribed police officers so that they could have the cattle cleared.

Police arrested 1 070 people over stock theft- related cases while 148 butcheries were closed for selling uninspected meat products in a countrywide operation conducted between June 18 and 24 this year.

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