Cattle Rustlers Terrorize Zimbabwean Farmers

by Victor Adetimilehin

Zimbabwean farmers are living in fear as cattle rustlers wreak havoc on their livelihoods. The thieves are using sophisticated methods to steal and slaughter the animals, leaving behind a trail of blood and bones.

The province of Mashonaland Central has been hit hard by the crime wave, which has seen more than 1,000 cattle stolen last year alone. The rustlers often operate at night, using guns, knives, and machetes to kill the animals and cut them into pieces. They then load the meat onto trucks or motorcycles and sell it on the black market.

The farmers are left with nothing but losses and trauma. Some have lost their entire herds, which they depend on for plowing, transport, and income. Others have been injured or killed while trying to defend their property.


A Threat to Food Security

The cattle thefts are not only a threat to the farmers, but also to the food security and economy of the country. Zimbabwe is facing a severe drought that has reduced crop production and increased hunger. Cattle are a vital source of protein and nutrition for many people, especially in rural areas.

According to the Zimbabwe Farmers Union, the country has about 5.4 million cattle, but needs at least 8 million to meet the demand. The union estimates that the rustlers are stealing about 40,000 cattle every year, worth about $120 million.

The government has acknowledged the problem and vowed to crack down on the criminals. It has deployed police and army units to patrol the affected areas and arrest the suspects. It has also urged the farmers to cooperate with the authorities and report any suspicious activities.


A Call for Community Action

However, some farmers said that the government’s response is not enough and that they need more support and protection. They complain that the police are understaffed, under-equipped, and sometimes corrupt. They also said that the courts are lenient and that the penalties for cattle rustling are too low.

Some farmers have taken matters into their own hands and formed vigilante groups to guard their cattle and chase away the rustlers. They have also revived the traditional practice of cattle branding, which involves marking the animals with a hot iron to identify their owners.

The farmers are also working with other stakeholders, such as the veterinary department, the registrar general’s office, and the traditional leaders, to improve the registration and movement of cattle. They hoped that these measures will help them recover their stolen animals and deter the rustlers.

Despite the challenges, the farmers are not giving up on their cattle and their dreams. They said that cattle are part of their culture and heritage, and that they will fight to preserve them. They also hoped that the situation will improve as the country recovers from the drought and the pandemic.

One farmer, Ernest Chipiri, who lost 10 cattle to the rustlers, said that he is optimistic about the future. He said that he is planning to buy more cattle and expand his farm. He also said that he is grateful for the support of his community and the police.

“We are not going to let these thieves destroy our lives,” he said. “We are going to work hard and rebuild our herds. We are going to make our province the best in the country.”


Source: The Herald 

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