New Era (Windhoek)

14 January 2013

Namibia: Police Implored to Act Against Stock Theft

The police must act without delay, not only in bringing to book the suspects in the recent murder of the Aminuis Constituency community police officer, but in curbing rampant stock theft in the area.

This was the plea of Ovaherero Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako at the funeral of the constituency's stock-theft chief and councillor of the Ovaherero Traditional Authority, Wilfried 'Major' Hijambepo Kazeurua, over the weekend here. Kazeurua's body was discovered on January 7 in an aardvark burrow on the commercial farm Brazil belonging to Charles Kauejao in the Kalahari Constituency in the Omahake Region.

At the time of his death, Kazeurua was hot in pursuit of suspected cattle thieves responsible for the removal of about 15 cattle belonging to Hadley Mwashekele, a Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) cameraman, from his farm Rembrandt in the same area.

Kazeurua left his home on December 26 last year in pursuit of the suspected thieves, in this case two farmhands who were reportedly accompanying the deceased to show him where the cattle were on the farm Brazil. It was at this farm where he met his fate.

The last time he was heard of was through a telephonic conversation with Mwashekele on December 28. Riruako echoed the sentiments of several political and traditional leaders in the area, as well as farmers, for the police to take bold steps against cattle rustling. According to those in the know, it is not the first time that the farm Brazil was allegedly being used as a haven for stock thieves. It was in fact the third time, they say.

This, the chief claimed, is a fact that is known to the police who seem reluctant to take action. Riruako made his plea in the presence of police Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi, who attended Kazeurua's funeral in his private capacity.

Riruako claimed that the police are aware that the farm Brazil is a rendezvous for cattle rustlers, yet they have failed to take action so far.

Riruako was echoing the growing sentiments of many in the area, especially people like Ovaherero Tradional leader Ervin Uanguta, the constituency councillor and the chief of the area under the Ovaherero Traditional Authority, Berthold Tjiundje, and his deputy, Edward Uandara, saying the Aminuis community is growing impatient with the brazen acts of cattle thieves and the seeming indifference and inaction of the police. He said if perceived police inaction persists, soon the community may be compelled to act on its own.

While cattle bandits in general may rejoice in the death of Kazeurua, Uanguta, Tjiundje and Uandara were adamant that his departure is by no means a carte blanche for stock thieves to have a field day and that from now on it is open war with stock thieves in the area and their collaborators and sympathisers.

To make the resolve and determination clear to the government, the leaders are envisaging an audience with the government, particularly the president, and the police. The community was particularly disturbed by the fact that despite having the tacit approval and appreciation of the police for his stock theft combating initiatives and activities, the police seemed indifferent to his death, judging by their conspicuous official absence at Kazeurua's funeral despite the presence of some officers to escort the hearse and to maintain law and order during the funeral ceremony.

Thousands attended the funeral of Kazeurua, including communal and some commercial crop farmers, especially from the Aranos area who had been working closely with Kazeurua in growing crops like beans. He was accorded a hero's funeral with full paramilitary honours by the Red, Green and White flags, marked by drilling parades including a cavalry accentuated with traditional battle cries by the warriors and replies by the women elegantly dressed in their traditional colours.

Kazeurua was laid to rest in the village of Toasis, the traditional seat of the late Ovaherero Paramount Chief, Hosea Kutako, to become the first community hero laid to rest there and to inaugurate the place as an Ovaherero-Ovambanderu heroes' acre in the Aminuis Constituency.

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