43 Cases of Stock Theft in Oshikoto and Still Counting

Stock Theft Investigator Constable Miriam Namwandi says 43 cases of stock theft were reported in the Oshikoto Region since the beginning of the year and this number is expected to increase.

Individuals stealing cattle often exploit loopholes existing in the issuance of stock permits and they also capitalise on the high demand for meat, according to her. “Getting rid of meat is very easy, many people are hungry for meat and usually buy without asking questions other than what sort of animal it comes from. Another factor contributing to stock theft is the issue of stock permits not being consistent,” says Deputy Police Commissioner Naomi Katjiua. According to her jail time for individuals convicted of stock theft is a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 20 years though the constitutionality of these sentences has successfully been challenged in the high court.

“Half the time offenders that get caught is when they are trying to get rid of the meat or whilst trying to drive the cattle to another area. The younger offenders opt for quick cash and they are often caught trying to sell the meat at considerably low prices to informal businesses in the locations. Older offenders on the other hand opt to drive the cattle to other areas or regions to sell in the villages,” according to constable Namwandi.

She says criminals usually operate in groups of 3 to 4 people and rarely make use of guns, choosing to use wires to ensnare livestock or use machetes and axes. “The chances of the felons getting away are entirely dependent on the vigilance of members of public and the time it take for farmers to discover the theft. Farmers usually report stock theft late, although 50 percent of the time we catch up with the thieves late reports make our job as law enforcement difficult as most evidence is lost,” added Namwandi.

Deputy Commissioner Katjiua urged livestock farmers to undertake routine patrols on their farms, repair damage to fences, use proper branding and the right documentation. “Regular patrols can help identify snares well before the animals step into these booby traps,” she said. Katjiua and Namwandi urged farmers to take better care of their employees, since they believe most stock theft crimes to be the result of inside jobs by poorly paid farm workers.

“It is a pity but the fact is if you do not treat your workers right they will conspire with others to steal from your farm,” said Namwandi. Both agreed that the ill treatment of farm workers and their starvation wages offer an incentive to such workers to get back at their employers by stealing from them.

Source : New Era