Katima Mulilo - The Liselo Kamenga anti-stock theft association held a meeting with stakeholders in Katima Mulilo last week to air their concerns over the escalating stock theft in the region.
Speaking at the event, association chairperson Vincent Sileye noted with concern the number of incidents in the region, which are affecting many who make a living from owning cattle.
He said the traditional authorities have been helpful in trying to prevent stock theft in their constituencies, but it is not easy. Livestock farming is one of the backbones of the people of the Zambezi region.
Sileye added that poor visibility at the border between Namibia and Zambia is one of the challenges that aid an increase in the number of stock theft cases in the region. If this is not sorted out, the situation will keep getting worse.
The clearing of trees and shrubs around the border will help in monitoring the unmarked roads that lead from Zambia to Namibia for patrol purposes, he observed.
“This will also help us identify hotspots used for stolen animals crossing into Zambia, as well as other related cross-border criminal activities.
Our border needs to be monitored as we have a lot of criminal activities taking place”, reiterated Sileye.
The association has also noted with concern the illegal harvesting of timber by those from Zambia, as well as vandalising of property in the Zambezi.
“Our organisation has observed that the issue of cross-border stock theft has not been taken seriously, and in the process, Namibians have lost thousands of cattle to Zambia, leaving our people crying to the extent of ‘mourning’ their livestock.
People are hungry, desperate, angry and helpless. We have no direction and hope because of the poverty that we are in now,” continued Sileye.
Farmers feel the Namibian and Zambian governments are not doing much to prevent the escalating number of stock theft cases in the region.
Speaking at the same event, regional crime investigations coordinator of the Namibian Police Dennis Simbwaye said since his arrival in the region earlier this year, a number of cases have been opened regarding stock theft.
From April to September this year, the number of stock theft cases are 25, while only seven are on the court roll. Suspects, including Namibians and Zambians, have been
The total number of cattle stolen were 182, worth over N$1 million. The number recovered stands at 92 cattle, with 90 cattle, with a total value of around N$620 000, not recovered.
Nine cases were likewise opened at Liselo Kamenga, where 94 cattle were stolen. Eight out of nine cases opened were of cattle stolen from their grazing area, while one case was from the quarantine area, explained Simbwaye.
He then highlighted the fact that the police were patrolling the areas from last week, and that they have made a few discoveries.
They thus discovered that livestock owners allow their cattle to graze unattended.
Cattle herders normally just leave cattle at the grazing area, and only return a few hours before sunset. That is the only time they take note of the missing cattle, and those hours can make a huge difference, added Simbwaye.
There are a number of unoccupied cattle posts, and these are used to hide the cattle in broad daylight, with the thieves returning to collect the cattle at night. Police officers will not know whether these cattle posts belong to people in the area, or are used as storage by thieves, he said.
The deputy commissioner informed the farmers to normalise informing the traditional authorities on the number of foreign nationals in the area, instead of hiding them, to the extent of giving them false names.
“You do not know what these people have done in their country of origin,” stressed Simbwaye.
Daisy Musweu, the deputy director of border control and immigration, stated that the number of undocumented people who are employed as cattle herders might be a contributing factor to stock theft.
“It is very difficult to trace people who are undocumented because they don’t even use their real names when looking for employment.
These people are constantly deported, but always find their way back in. At the end of the day, we end up deporting the same person more than once”, she observed.
Zambezi regional governor Lawrence Sampofu noted the concerns of the farmers, and informed them that his office has been working to find solutions to the matter. The head of state as well as the Minister of Home affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security Albert Kawana and other ministers are also informed about the matter.
The governor said increasing stock theft is alarming.
“Our border is very broad. Therefore, we need to assist the police when we see people illegally crossing into the country.
I have seen people crossing in canoes in broad daylight from Zambia into Namibia.
The border needs to be cleaned, and I have informed the relevant ministries on that matter several times. But yet, nothing has been done”, added Sampofu.
The governor further stated that community members need to work together with the police and immigration officials by informing them about illegal crossings, as well as those who are undocumented but are residing in the country in order to assist officials as this is not a job that should be left to them to work on alone.