Police will not hesitate to arrest abattoirs and butchery owners who fuel cattle rustling by purchasing stolen cattle, the National Anti-Stock Theft Coordinator has said.Senior Assistant Commissioner Erasmus Makodza made the remarks while addressing a cattle branding campaign at West Acre on the outskirts of Bulawayo. He added that the police will lobby for a deterrent law against those who purchase stolen cattle.

“I want to give a stern warning to abattoirs and butchery owners against buying stolen cattle. While stock theft has mandatory nine year sentence, we have proposed and shall lobby to the legislators a law that will give anyone found guilty of stock theft a mandatory eighteen year jail term,” said Senior Assistant Commissioner Makodza.

With an average of 20 cases of theft a day nationwide, the National Anti-Stock Theft Coordinator said it was no time to sleep on the switch but for all to work together and curb the scourge.He said the proposed law will also give hefty sentences to unscrupulous meat vendors who are playing a big role in exacerbating stock theft.

He urged business owners to pay back to the community by assisting farmers who do not afford brand irons.

“We have seen that after getting their cattle brand certificates, most farmers cannot afford to buy brand irons. We are appealing for business owners to assist these farmers as a way of paying back to your communities,” said the Senior Officer.

Guest speaker at the event Assistant Commissioner Lorraine Chipato who was representing the Officer Commanding Bulawayo Province, Senior Assistant Commissioner Stephen Mutamba applauded communities surrounding Bulawayo for their positive response to cattle branding/Muchiso Mamombe/Uphawu Enkomeni programme.

“I am particularly impressed by the province’s positive response to cattle branding programme especially the surrounding communities here in West Acre and other peri-urban areas of Bulawayo. I am reliably informed that West Acre area has a total of 1 637 cattle of which 956 are already branded,” he said.

Chief Animal Health Inspector for Bulawayo Province, Mr Ndumiso Bhebhe urged farmers to have their cattle branded with both personal marks and Veterinary marks. While personal marks identify the owner, Veterinary marks identify the region where the cattle belong to.

“We want to protect our national herd from theft and diseases. As Veterinary department we are able to control animal diseases through regional brand marks, for example all cattle near game parks are branded V and they are susceptible to anthrax,” said Mr Bhebhe.

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