15 May 2017

Zimbabwe: Police Call for Stiffer Rustling Penalties

Plumtree — Police are lobbying the Attorney-General's Office to ensure that the mandatory sentence for stock theft is increased from nine to 30 years per beast and that the theft of a chicken must attract a five-year mandatory sentence.

Addressing villagers from Mayobodo area in Mangwe District last Friday, national anti-stock theft coordinator Senior Assistant Commissioner Erasmus Makodza said they were also lobbying for a 20-year jail sentence for theft of a goat or donkey and five-year jail term for theft of a chicken.

He said they submitted a letter to the AG's Office with their recommendations.

"Stocktheft is a serious offence which calls for a deterrent sentence," said Snr Asst Comm Makonza. "We have sent a proposal to the AG's Office for an increase in stock theft sentences.

"We have proposed 30 years for theft of a beast, 20 years for theft of a goat or donkey and five years for theft of a chicken. Cases of stocktheft remain high and they pose a threat to our nation's economic stability because livestock are a main source of income in many com- munities.

"Therefore, there is a need to penalise perpetrators accordingly."

Snr Asst Comm Makodza raised concern that some thieves were being sentenced to only nine years after stealing more than one beast.

He said each beast invited a nine-year jail sentence regardless of circumstances involved.

The top police officer said some culprits were being sentenced to community service for stealing donkeys, goats or chickens.

Snr Asst Comm Makodza said there was need for the AG's Office to revise the sentences, as culprits were being allowed to walk scot-free.

He advised communities to set up village anti-stocktheft committees to reduce cases of stock theft in their areas.

Snr Asst Comm Makodza said the committees, consisting of five members, were supposed to be chaired by village heads.

"There are still some communities that have not formed these committees," he said. "The committees are crucial in ensuring that cases of stock theft decrease. Their role is to create synergies between the community and police in stock theft related matters.

"They also have to ensure that villagers are well informed of stock theft policy issues. The committees are also responsible for monitoring cattle movement and cattle buying activities in their areas.

"As police, we can't be present in each and every village all the time, but the committees can be on the alert for cattle related crimes."

Snr Asst Comm Makodza urged villagers to have their cattle branded, considering that 90 percent of beasts that were being stolen were unbranded.

He said villagers should not keep stray beasts in their kraals without the knowledge of traditional leaders.

The country recorded a 13 percent increase in cattle theft cases from 9 673 in 2015 to 10 942 in 2016.

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