Omaheke Stock Theft Under Control

POLICE in the Omaheke Region say they have brought the scourge of stock theft under control.

Omaheke regional commander Commissioner Josephat Abel told Nampa on Friday that although new stock theft cases are still reported, their numbers had gone down.

He said most stock theft cases reported to the police of late involved nominal or few animals, compared to those involving large numbers that were 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. However there is still a long road to go before the Omaheke, just like any other region in the country, can declare itself free of stock theft,” he said.

Abel attributed the reduction in the number of stock theft cases to various operations launched by the police to counter the crime.

Such operations involved educating farmers on their rights and on ways to seek legal recourse if their livestock has been stolen. Other measures include farmers initiatives to prevent stock theft like conducting regular counts, and other operations 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 suspects in the coming weeks.

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

Abel declared that the police will not rest until stock theft has been eliminated in the region, noting that it cuts at the region’s economic lifeline, which relies mostly on farming.

In 2011, the High Court declared as unconstitutional the minimum sentence of 20 years imprisonment for theft of livestock valued at more than N$500, and a minimum of 30 years for convicts with previous stock theft records.

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

Courts dealing with stock thieves will, still have to send offenders to prison, but can now decide what an appropriate jail term would be in each case.

Abel was 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 involved in criminal activities,” he noted.

Nampa

Source : The Namibian