Cattle rustlers devise new method
POLICE have sent a special unit to investigate cases where rustlers are shooting cattle and taking away the carcases in trucks in Esigodini and Mbembesi.
Villagers have raised concern at the increasing number of incidents that they say started about two months ago in Matabeleland North Province.
The police National Coordinator of Anti-Stock Theft Senior Assistant Commissioner Erasmus Makodza yesterday confirmed the shooting incidents.
“We have deployed security forces and an investigations team to go on the ground and see to the matter,” he said.
“We have received reports from Mbembesi where three cattle were shot on Sunday night and the carcasses, offals and hides were discovered. In the meantime, we are not able to say who is behind the shootings but investigations are underway.”
Village head Mr December Moyo of Mpisini Village in Ward 14 in Esigodini, said villagers have lost scores of cattle to the rustlers.
He said previously shootings occurred at night, but last Monday some shots were fired in the afternoon.
“I have witnessed a number of shot cattle dying in the village. Three were shot in the past days and are recovering. Every night we hear five to 10 gun shots and know that one of the villagers has lost a beast.
“This group is targeting especially grazing areas where everyone drives their cattle for pastures. Now it has become very risky to send your cattle to the grazing land but one can’t keep their cattle in the kraal,” he said.
Mr Moyo said it was worrying that police seem not to be treating the matter with urgency.
“Villagers now live in fear especially following the Monday incident where gun shots were heard in broad daylight. These thieves will injure people very soon. Only blood stains and some innards from the cattle remain,” he said.
A villager who preferred anonymity said so far he has lost two beasts. He said he reported the loss to the police.
“As we speak two other villagers, Washington Khumalo and one only identified as Moyo were lucky as their beasts were only wounded.
“One was shot last Saturday night while the other two were shot last Monday around noon. They removed the bullets and are nursing their cattle at home,” he said.
On Sunday night, a villager discovered hides of three cattle that had been shot, under the flyover in Mbembesi, while rustlers wounded three beasts in Esigodini last week.
Mr Sikhumbuzo Ndlovu discovered three heads, offals, hides and hooves under the fly over bridge, at the railway line at Heany Junction and reported the matter to neighbourhood watch committee member, Mr Mzingwana Ndlovu.
A villager, Khaya Masoka said the two made inquiries and discovered that two of the cattle belonged to Mr Kelvin Masoka.
“Police investigations revealed that the cattle had gunshot wounds in the heads and they were slaughtered. Tags and cattle brands helped them to identify the owners,” he said.
The other head was identified as that of a beast belonging to Mr Jonathan Mbuyazo of Zimbili Extension.-@winnie_masara