Botswana: Police Crack Down Ghanzi Stock Theft Syndicates

Ghanzi — Botswana Police Service has managed to crack down on stock theft syndicates in the Ghanzi area, says Assistant Commissioner, Mr Dipheko Motube.

He said through the Kgomo-Khumo VI anti stock theft operation, which was launched at Ghanzi on May 28 this year targeting Ghanzi and Ngamiland area, the operation managed to crack down on two stock theft syndicates in the Ghanzi area.

He said one syndicate was based in Kalkfontein and one operated from Bere. He added that both involved youth aged between 23 and 35 years.

The syndicates, he said, had devised means of cheating the system of cattle registration and sales. He said they managed to realise how the stock thieves circumvented the system.

Mr Motube noted that they questioned 85 people for stock theft in the Ghanzi area, and that 22 of them had been convicted and sent to jail while some were still under investigations.

He said trading in livestock has gone down in the Ghanzi area as evidenced by the number of farmers serviced at the Department of Veterinary Services.

"Nowadays benches remain empty at the Department of Veterinary Services and officers have little work to do," he said

He also noted that some butchery facilities had been closed down and that there was no influx of cattle at feedlots.

Assistant Commissioner Motube, who is spearheading the Kgomo-Khumo anti stock theft operation countrywide, said they had observed that some farmers had abandoned their cattle posts and their livestock.

He added that as a result, stolen livestock went back to their original kraals and that some came with strange brands.

He explained that some cattle may not be able to return to their kraals because of one confined source of water, but that he was confident that once surface water sources increased, particularly during the rainy season, many cattle would return to their owners.

He advised farmers to report any livestock with strange brand marks as soon as they returned to their kraals.

The assistant commissioner said some stock thieves did all to escape prison by destroying evidence.

He said some destroyed ear marks while some went to the extent of killing livestock and cutting out brand marks before throwing away their carcasses.

However, Mr Motube said he was happy that communication between members of the public and police had improved and that information about stock theft was more accessible.

The operations success, he said, had led to the resurrection of other crime prevention strategies. "People are now appreciating police partnerships," he said

He added that the restoration of confidence on the police was now clear.

Despite making strides against stock theft, Mr Motube regretted that reconciliation between complainants and accused persons betrayed the operation.

"Reconciliations are so many and they account for 25 per cent of all registered stock cases," he revealed.

He described reconciliation as a waste of police efforts and resources, adding that it also defeated the efforts of justice.

"At the end, complainants would be compensated with stolen cattle, and one will have to join the accused in the dock."

Assistant Commissioner Motube said those who had committed crime should not be denied a chance to be rehabilitated at prisons.

In addition, he said mismanagement of livestock by owners such as animals not kralled, branded or registed should be done to ease tracing of animal or to track down stock theft criminals.

He revealed that their anti stock theft operation was indefinite. However, he said at one point they would be scaling down their operation.

"We cannot say there is a time frame for the operation because our ultimate goal is to curb stock theft," he said.

Mr Motube was hopeful that the recent Stock Theft Act Amendments, which came into effect from July, would save pastoral farmers.

He said the recent stock theft reforms would deter stock theft crimes.

The amendment includes increase of prison term of stock theft crime to between five and 12 years depending on the gravity of the offence and if one was a first offender and between seven to 15 years if one was not a first offender.

He said the police have also been empowered to confiscate vehicles, weapons or any equipment used when committing the offence.

He said upon conviction, courts may order for payment of compensation.

He added that compensation included coverage of the actual loss and other losers that were a direct result of the offence.

He also noted that any person who procures, incites, hires, directs, instigates or colludes with another person contravening the act, was equally guilty under the new amendments.

Trading licenses of those who traded with stock theft meat could lose them if found guilty of perpetrating stock theft.

Meanwhile, this week the Chobokwane Customary Court sent Kalane Cuite, 28, Khacgo Xlare, 19, Xeexe Tonalecho, 35, and Tommy Bebenyane, 22, behind bars for five years for stealing stock.

Source : BOPA

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