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Councillor blames stock theft on migrants

2022-05-10  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

Councillor blames stock theft on migrants

Gobabis – Otjombinde constituency councillor Wenzel Kavaka has vowed to visit all villages with immigration officials and deport “any illegal immigrants”, whom he blames for the increase in cattle theft in the constituency and the Omaheke region at large.

Migrants from neighbouring Angola, primarily Ovatue and Ovahakaona, have flooded the Omaheke region villages over the years.

 Many of these migrants are employed by local farmers as cattle herders.

However, several farmers have accused the purported “illegal immigrants” of stock theft, which has angered them. 

Recently, Kavaka said, six purported “illegal immigrants” from southern Angola were arrested by the Namibian police in the Otjombinde constituency after they shot and killed cattle belonging to an elderly farmer.

“My message is clear to these people (Angolan nationals). We have been living in peace with these people, but we are now left with no other option but to help them get deported,” Kavaka told New Era last week.

“We will visit all villages, village to village, with the help of traditional leaders and immigration officials, and identify those without documentation to be deported,” he added.  

 Last year, he added, police confiscated roughly 60 livestock from alleged “illegal immigrants” with the cooperation of community police. 

Despite the continued investigation, the same persons are being accused of the same crime.

In his State of the region address last year, Omaheke governor Pijoo Nganate said some police officers are relaxing on the job – and as such, police officers at Epukiro, Tallismanus, Corridor 13 and Witvlei were rotated for the improvement of police operations, as well as to ensure restoration of trust in the force.

He revealed Omaheke has lost livestock to the value of N$5 million from April 2019 to March 2020. 

From April 2019 to March 2020, 99 stock theft-related cases were reported to the region’s police, of which 552 were big livestock and 627 small stocks to the tune of N$4.95 million.  

According to Nganate, of the 552 big livestock stolen, 159 were recovered, while 292 small livestock of the 627 were recovered to the value of N$1.8 million. 

Nganate said 244 suspected livestock rustlers were arrested by the police.

Also, several task forces were formed to help curb livestock theft in the region. 

A task force, led by Sandie Tjaronda, was formed by concerned farmers in the Epukiro constituency; it is known as the Community Against Stock Theft Organisation (CATO).

In 2020, CATO during an operation, christened ‘Operation Coronavirus’, recovered 58 stolen cattle with an estimated value of about N$400 000, 10 donkeys, 12 sheep, five vehicles and a television set in the Epukiro constituency.

Similarly, a parallel operation in the Otjombinde constituency recovered over 100 cattle last year. 

The cattle were reportedly stolen from farms across the region over a period of time.

Angolan migrants moved across the border to Namibia in early 2021 to look for shelter and food after a prolonged drought, exacerbated by the outbreak of Covid-19, left them destitute.

In January 2022, 1 792 people were repatriated back to Angola, but some have found their way further down the south in Namibia, looking for work. 

Others returned to Namibia merely weeks after being repatriated.

2022-05-10  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

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