Farmers in Omitara and surrounding areas in the Omaheke region are frustrated and at their wits end with the increase in stock theft.
One such farmer, Thomas Cochlin has gone to the extent of building a three-metre-high concrete shed to keep his livestock at night.
“It is really unbearable at the moment. I lost 26 cattle, which has a major financial implication,” Cochlin told top police officials on Saturday during a joint outreach programme on curbing stock theft in the region.
He said criminals have become so brazen and have stolen 17 sheep from his kraal that is just 20 metres from his house.
Cochlin and other farmers in the area met with deputy inspector general for operations, Major-General Joseph Shikongo, Khomas police chief, Commissioner Ishmael Basson and other high-ranking police officials at Hunters Namibia Safari Lodge in efforts to share solutions to fight stock theft.
“We need to work more with the police as a community. We need to stamp down on criminal activities,” said Cochlin.
Criminal activities are said to have increased in the area since the initial Covid-19 lockdown, with farmers saying stock theft has multiplied tenfold.
Unfortunately, stock theft is a lucrative business, which has moved from unemployed people in the community trying to fill their empty stomachs to stock theft businesses being run by criminals, said Detective Inspector Hermanus van Wyk, who heads the stock theft unit in the Omaheke region.
“Windhoek is the largest consumer of stolen stock. With the market being in Windhoek, there is a need to close these markets,” said Van Wyk.
Large numbers of carcasses are being moved and their conditions are questionable at times, Van Wyk added, saying health inspectors are also needed in the fight.
His counterpart in Windhoek, Bartholomeus //Hoëseb said they are in the process of closing down black markets so that they can minimise illegal structures that receive the carcasses.
With Omitara and Witvlei sharing one police vehicle, which is hardly available and unfit, transport hampers the effective and efficient combating of crime in the area.
Adding to this challenge, farmer Ali Ipinge said the conclusion of investigations that should lead to the prosecution of these criminals is not happening.
“The criminals might be known. We pass on the information to the police for investigation, but unfortunately it just ends there,” he said.
The farmers indicated that they are ready and willing to cooperate and partner with the police.
On his part, Shikongo urged farmers to work with the police.
“Let us form a very formidable bond so that criminals cannot have access moving between the two regions,” he said.
Shikongo also appealed to members of the force to deliver quality police services and reminded them that partnerships built with the public should not be criminal in nature. He added that although mobility is an issue, it should not be used as an excuse not to execute their mandate.