Abel warns against stock theft

GOBABIS: The Namibian Police Force (NamPol) in the Omaheke Region has managed to bring stock theft under control.

NamPol’s Omaheke Regional Commander, Commissioner Josephat Abel told Nampa on Friday that although new stock theft cases are still reported in the region, such numbers have gone down.

He said most stock theft cases reported of late have been those involving nominal or few animals, compared to cases of large numbers of animals reported in the past.

“We have really tried our level best to bring stock theft cases down. We are of cause still experiencing new cases, but these are not as severe as the ones reported in the past.

But there is still a long road to go before the Omaheke, just like any other region in the country, can declare itself to be free of stock theft,” he said.

Abel attributed the reduction in stock theft cases to various operations launched by the police to counter the crime, which had farmers living in fear of losing their livestock.

Such operations involved educating farmers on their rights and on ways to seek legal recourse if their livestock has been stolen. Other campaigns included ways to best prevent stock theft by farmers, and other operations by the police which led to the apprehension of stock theft suspects.

The regional commander said the police will soon roll out undercover operations aimed at apprehending more stock theft suspects in the coming weeks.

“We are entering hunting season, and this is the time when stock theft cases increase a lot. We will be on the look-out to prevent the loss of livestock to farmers,” he said.

Abel warned that the police will not rest until stock theft has been totally eliminated in the Omaheke Region, noting that stock theft cuts at the economic fabric of the region which mainly relies on farming.

In 2011, the High Court ordered as unconstitutional the minimum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment which the law prescribes for stock thieves convicted of stealing livestock valued at more than N.dollars 500, and a minimum of 30 years for stock thieves who had been convicted of stock theft previously.

This, however, leaves intact the law prescribing a mandatory prison sentence for anyone convicted of stealing livestock valued at more than N.dollars 500 and a stock thief who is a repeat offender.

As a result, courts dealing with livestock thieves will from now on still have to send offenders to prison, but can now decide for themselves what an appropriate jail term would be in each case.

Abel was also quick to add that the ruling on the constitutionality of a minimum sentence for stock theft by the High Court should not be seen as an encouragement for the crime.

“People should not fool themselves; the long arm of the law will always catch up with them. It may not be today, but you will eventually go down if you are into criminal activities,” he noted.