In their endless mission to combat the alarming rate of stock theft and cross-border cattle rustling in the Ngwaketse-West area, the police recently launched the Kgomo-Khumo anti-stock theft operation.
Launching the operation on June 15, police commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe said Kgomo-Khumo has been making a breakthrough, which resulted in suspects being caught read-handed in Sekoma while in possession of cattle they failed to account for.
The police seized the cattle, and carcasses that apparently were ready for the market, but the suspects could not account for them.
Farmers have been urged to brand their livestock to curb stock theft as thieves were reported to be targeting unbranded beasts.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) public relations officer, Dipheko Motube told The Monitor that the operation has already covered villages such as Mabutsane, Kanye, Selokolola, Lerolwane, Morwamosu, Molapo farms, Keng, including Sekoma to mention but a few, with 15 suspects already netted in cases involving 21 cattle and two goats.
A majority of residents in these areas depend on farming for survival, as they keep hundreds of herds, something that has since worked to the advantage of the thieves who made such farmers their biggest target.
Motube said recently 19 cattle were intercepted at a local abattoir in Kanye with four of them as carcasses suspected to have been stolen in far-flung Makunda near Charles Hill.
“Fifteen of the 19 cattle were stolen from one farmer at Makunda village. In another incident, we arrested 10 men at Mokopane cattle post in possession of three cattle suspected to be stolen on June 14. Six of the men, aged between 16 and 29 years, are from Khakhiya village and four, aged between 37 and 47, are from Lerolwane but had all visited Mokopane on a mission to steal. They steal and track them to places where they will be having ready markets,” he said.
He said in another incident, four men aged between 37 and 47 years, two from Lerolwane, one from Hereford and another from Tsidilamolomo, were recently arrested in Molopo farms in possession of a cow carcass. Motube said on Wednesday a 40-year-old man of Morolong ward in Keng was arrested in connection with five cattle suspected to be stolen after
He said still on Wednesday at Keng, four Batswana men were nabbed in possession of 16 cattle suspected of being stolen and are currently in police custody helping with investigations.
The police boss said on Wednesday a Maokane man, as a matter of fact, Boemedi Oatlhotse aged 26, appeared before Maokane Customary Court to face a stock theft charge. He was convicted and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment.
“Facts of the case are that the accused person, who has similar previous convictions, stole a goat and a kid belonging to one Molefe Ramakua aged 72 of Basarwa cattle post near Maokane village last year,” he said. Motube said it is their mandate to protect people’s lives and their property, hence he called for the Ngwaketse community to help with any useful information that could lead to the arrest of perpetrators in an effort to curb escalating stock theft in their area.
“Farming plays a critical role in the development of the country’s economy and we will continue to strive to curb stock theft. We will not allow people’s livestock to be taken away from them for free.
“All of our resources are here. We have air patrols, car patrols to mention but a few geared for the success of this operation,” Motube said. Police efforts have also found evidence of stock theft pointing all the way to South Africa, as some of the stolen cattle were retrieved from villages across the border such as Lehurutshe and Madute.
Also, it has since been established that most of the meat consumed in Gaborone and major neighbouring villages is from stolen livestock, making stock theft one of the most lucrative crimes in the country. Some feedlots allegedly have emerged as ready markets for such stolen stock.
It is alleged that some butcheries appear to be relying on stolen livestock for supplies, hence living by the mantra, stock theft is a criminal, but gainful undertaking.