WINDHOEK – Stock theft and poaching are reaching crisis proportions in the Karibib and Otjimbingwe areas with questions increasing whether the police force – crippled by underfunding – is able to fight this prevalent crime in the country.
Seven poachers are now behind bars in Karibib after they were caught last Thursday slaughtering two Nguni cattle near Otjimbingwe. The police apprehended five of them on the spot and two were later arrested after some sterling police work over three days. On the same day cattle herder, Andreas Shuudi, was found wounded in the veldt near Karibib, allegedly shot by security guards after he tried to poach livestock with the help of a man called Andries Simweoshile, and another known only as Letti. Police are still looking for both men.
In Aminuis, riddled with poaching and livestock thefts since last year, rustlers rounded up 42 sheep on Tuesday to be loaded on a truck but the anti-poaching unit of the area struck before they could do so. The impounded flock consists of 29 black-faced Dorper ewes and 13 white Dorper ewes. Their ear tags had been removed. Farmers who are missing Dorper sheep have been requested to contact Gustaf of the Namibian Police at 081 345 6706.
The Omitara police were informed and several farmers spotted the lorry but it managed to get away while the Corolla was later seen in Okakarara. No arrests have been made yet but the police and farmers are on the lookout for the two vehicles.
Basjan Jacobz from the Omitara area lost 29 calves and two oxen last week when they were loaded onto a grey Mercedes Benz lorry, accompanied by a silver Toyota Corolla that were last spotted going in the direction of Witvlei. The same lorry was involved in the theft of another 12 cattle from the farm Lausitz near Steinhausen.
In the Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions, police commissioners have constantly expressed concern about stock theft and at the end of last year, members of the National Council acknowledged the work done by the police but stated they are of the view that the police budget was insufficient, considering the mammoth mandate the force is required to fulfil. In the last financial year, the ministry received N$5.1 billion, but the figure was revised upwards during the mid-term budget to N$5.2 billion.
Aminuis constituency councillor and member of the National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo), Peter Kazongominja, last year told the National Council that the safety of citizens should not be compromised. According to him, the police need at least N$10 billion to execute their obligations successfully.
Echoing similar sentiments, Swapo councillor Vejama Kanguatjivi of Epukiro constituency said indications are that police officers are no longer able to handle stock theft in the country.
“Stock theft is one of the biggest threats facing Namibian livestock owners. I believe that the problem is probably much bigger than we realise,” he stated. Kanguatjivi attributed the increasing stock theft to poor police investigations and an ineffective justice system.
The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM)’s Nguzu Muharukua also joined the fray, saying the lack of police vehicles has made it difficult for officers to fight these syndicates, who are well-resourced in most cases.
Farmers New Era spoke to say stock theft is no longer a matter of stealing but more like invasions, with cattle rustlers sometimes camping for days inside any targeted farm or village within the communal area, equipped with the most modern equipment imaginable to carry out their crimes. Animals are loaded onto pick-ups or lorries, which equally enter the farm at ease. Cattle rustling being big business now, this is something that rustlers would not stop or forego easily.
Farmers say they are up against organised syndicates who strike on commercial or communal farms, and judging by the past two weeks, the surge in poaching and theft is of great concern.