Mat South declares war on rustlers

In an interview with Southern Eye yesterday, BB-GASTA spokesperson Victor Sibanda they had declared war on stock theft in the province.

LIVESTOCK farmers in Matabeleland South, operating under the Beitbridge-Gwanda Anti- Stock Theft Association (BB-GASTA) are intensifying their campaign against cattle rustlers following rampant stock theft in the province.

In an interview with Southern Eye yesterday, BB-GASTA spokesperson Victor Sibanda they had declared war on stock theft in the province.

Sibanda said on August 9, 2021, farmers from across the province, some from the diaspora, opened a WhatsApp group to discuss the burning issues affecting the region, especially stock theft.

“We discussed a lot of issues and we started to have Zoom meetings while sharing ideas on how to curb stock theft. On September 9, 2021, we built structures in areas controlled by six traditional leaders, namely, Chief Tshitaudze, Chief Nhlamba, Chief Marupi, Chief Mathe, Chief Mathema and Chief Masuku,” Sibanda said.

“An interim leadership was also appointed, including foot soldiers to start massive operations as stock theft cases were on the increase. We started our operations in November 2021 and we recovered lots of stolen livestock.”

The foot soldiers were deployed across the province where they conduct random searches and roadblocks. They have since successfully apprehended several suspects.

“It was not easy, but we sacrificed. Some of our foot soldiers were seriously injured after being attacked by the rogue cattle rustlers. Some were axed and stabbed by sharp objects such as machetes and spears. Even some of the police officers were attacked as the culprits resisted arrest.

“We have faced a lot of challenges, but it is in moments like these that our true character and strength is revealed,” he said while paying tribute to farmers who provided financial, moral and physical support.

He also hailed the police for supporting the initiative from its inception.

“Our vision for 2024 is to take BB-GASTA to another level. We are appealing to farmers to come and join us so that we speak with one voice. We are all say enough is enough, no more stock theft in the province.

“We are also appealing to our traditional leaders, councillors and Members of Parliament to fully support BB-GASTA because we are defending our wealth,” he added.

Stock theft is so rampant in Matabeleland South that last year police arrested a Zanu PF ward 13 councillor for Insiza in connection with the theft of 36 head of cattle.

In October last year, police, however, reported that stock theft cases has dropped by 17% between January and August compared to the same period in 2022.

Police said 457 cases were recorded during the period with Gwanda recording 43% of the cases, while 551 cases had been recorded in the same period in 2022.

The reduction in stock theft cases was credited to the police operation code named: Asibambeni amasela izinkomo, which targeted commercial farming areas in West Nicholson. The operation recovered 38 cattle.

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