15 January 2013

Rwanda: Stolen Cattle Recovered As Huye District Adopts Tough Measures

Huye district has banned sale of animals from homes as part of wider efforts to check rampant cattle theft in the area.

Speaking to The New Times, district mayor Eugene Kayiranga Muzuka said local leaders have also resolved to increase vigilance, especially at night, to ensure no stolen animals are transported.

"We have made it clear that every individual willing to sell their animals must take them to authorised selling places. And every cow must have an identification number before it is sold or transported from one place to another," Muzuka said. "We are very sure that the measures we have put in place will end the thefts."

Residents in Mbazi sector, Huye district, have over the last two months expressed worries over what they termed as the rampant cases of cattle theft in the area.

Livestock farmers in the area told this paper earlier this month that the thefts were rising at an alarming rate and alleged that at least 30 cows and some 50 pigs have been stolen over the past few months.

The cases have also been recorded in the neighbouring Huye and Maraba sectors of the same district, sources said.

'Theft not rampant'

However, Muzuka denies cattle theft is as rampant as the locals claim. He said "an investigation into the reports concluded with a low number of stolen cows compared to that put forward by farmers."

Since early last year, only seven cows were reportedly stolen in Maraba sector, according to Muzuka. Six of them were recovered by security operators, he added.

In the neighbouring Mbazi sector, which is said to be the most affected, the mayor said of the 16 head of cattle stolen, eight were recovered and returned to their owners.

According to the mayor, the statistics cover a period of the last 12 months rather than the few months alleged by the farmers.

In an early interview, livestock farmers in the affected areas said rustlers sneak into people's homes at night, break into the kraals and take cattle. They also said the stolen cattle are sneaked for sale in Rusizi, Western Province.

But an area leader told this paper there are no tangible proofs to support the claims.

The residents had also complained about what they said was lack of appropriate punishment to those suspected of the robbery.

An area resident claimed that many of the suspects have been released "within three weeks or less" after their arrest and said there are fears that "some individuals might take justice into their hands."

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