The pangs of Operation Kgomo Khumo’s mini version dubbed Operation Ndhe Zhe Bathu were experienced in Francistown and surrounding recently. In total Operation Ndhe Zhe Bathu, a Kalanga phrase for ‘they belong to the people’ nabbed 16 alleged cattle rustlers Mmegi Correspondents LEBOGANG KOKORO & LESEDI KEGOROGILE report
FRANCISTOWN: Some cattle rustlers in Botswana’s second city and environs recently found themselves on the wrong side of the law after they were hauled before the Magistrate’s Court to answer for allegations of rustling.
From time immemorial cattle rustling has caused great sorrow to farmers in Botswana especially in rural communities who largely depend on agriculture for living.
This menace has been frustrating both the State and farmers’ efforts to prevent it. Government later heeded the farmers’ cries that sentences meted out to cattle rustlers were light and did not deter the perpetrators from continuing to steal their cattle.
As such, last year government promulgated the new Stock Theft Act, which increased the maximum sentence of stock theft from 15 to 20 years in jail. The Botswana Police Service (BPS) also got into the mix by introducing a new stock theft preventative campaign called Operation Kgomo Khumo.
Since the campaign started, many rustlers have been arrested especially in the Southern part of the country. Some of them have already appeared in various courts of laws in that part of the country. Last November, the police shifted the operation to the Northern part of Botswana (Francistown and surrounding areas) and they christened it Operation Ndhe Zhe Bathu. Its efforts are already starting to bear fruits since the exercise has already nabbed 16 stock thefts suspects. The last suspect who was nabbed by Operation Ndhle Zhe Bathu since it moved to the North was arrested on Tuesday this week, according to the spokesperson of BPS assistant commissioner, Dipheko Motube.
In a telephone interview with Mmegi, Motube said they apprehended 10 alleged cattle rustlers (eight Batswana and two Zimbabweans) towards the end of November last year. Motube said the thieves are alleged to have stolen 20 cattle from the villages of Marapong, Semitwe, Borolong and Jamataka. The ages of the alleged thieves, Motube revealed vary, with the oldest being 90-years-old. They are Bame Mopaki, Mmoloki Daludza of Mabesekwa, Reuben Mogome of Borolong, Mbaakanyi Jane of Jamataka, Tshepho Khethiwe of Semitwe, Gabarate Makwati of Chadibe, Jotia Gonde and Lingililani Jotia of Borolong, Tselayakhumo Kebadire of Mahalapye and Alleck Mathina and Thamsanga Charles Ncube of Zimbabwe.
“The 90-year-old Gonde has been granted bail while the other accused persons are remanded in custody,” said Motube who is very optimistic that Operation Ndhe Zhe Bathu would be a huge success. Motube
One of the accused, Amos, claimed that the investigating officer was motivated by malice by applying that he be further remanded in custody because he (investigating officer) was having desires on his wife.
“If at all your application for my further remand in custody is not motivated by ulterior motives, why did you call my wife in the middle of the night and told her that you loved her?” said Amos. In response, the investigating officer (IO) admitted that he indeed telephoned Amos’ wife but he explained that he did so in the line of duty and nothing else. “I called your wife in the presence of my senior who is a woman. I would not have called her in the absence of my boss.
I also don’t have any designs on your wife because I am married to a very descent woman,” the IO said. At the end of the accused’s appearance in court, Kapeko granted them cash bail ranging from P1,500 and P4,500. The accused will appear in court on January 15. Meanwhile, Motube appealed to members of the public to come and identify their stolen cattle at the police exhibit kraals at Marapong and Tonota. “We are appealing to farmers of the North East District to come and identify their cattle. We also encourage the farmers to take good care of their cattle by feeding, watering and registering them,” he added.