Police have launched a nationwide clampdown on illegal meat vendors and backyard food outlets as part of measures to fight livestock theft. The operation, codenamed "Eradicate Street/Open Air Meat and Food Vendors", was first launched in Harare and Bulawayo, where police arrested 340 offenders and closed down 13 butcheries and confiscated 458kg of meat between March and May this year.
In an interview yesterday, Police National Anti-Stock theft coordinator Senior Assistant Commissioner Erasmus Makodza said the second phase had been nationalised and would cover growth points and small towns.
"We started with Harare and Bulawayo because those were the hot spots. However, we have discovered that there are rampant cases of meat and food vending in other cities and towns throughout the country," said Snr Asst Comm Mukodza.
"This programme will complement other blitzes such as operation 'Batai Mbavha dze mombe/Bopani amasela enkomo' that we conducted in January this year. We arrested 932 people for stock theft and related cases," he said.
Snr Ass Comm Makodza said street meat vendors were providing a ready market for stolen meat thereby promoting stock theft.
"We have operation Eradicate Street/Open Air Meat and Food Vendors that we launched in March this year. Under this operation, which we only did in Bulawayo and Harare, we were targeting meat vendors. The blitz on street meat and food vendors was conducted during the period extending from March 27 to May 14 this year," he said.
"Under this operation, we managed to arrest 192 offenders in Bulawayo and 148 in Harare. We also closed down two butcheries in Bulawayo and 11 in Harare. We confiscated 148kg of beef, 257kg chicken and 53kg fish," he said. +
Snr Ass Comm Makodza said police, in conjunction with the veterinary services department and the registrar general's office, had so far branded about 2 million cattle under a new personalised branding system.
He said this had contributed significantly towards the reduction in stock theft in the country.
"Since we started the new cattle branding system, we have branded 1 963 566 cattle. This is 36 percent of the national herd which is 5 490 620. This has reduced stock theft significantly because 98 percent of the cattle that are stolen are unbranded," he said.