Police have rejected a request from some villagers in Matabeleland South Province to be allowed to mete out instant justice on livestock thieves and other criminals who are terrorising them.
The villagers made the request after several of the apprehended criminals fled to neighbouring countries upon being granted bail by the courts.Speaking in Skuta, Filabusi, recently, during a meeting with senior police officers led by the National Anti-Stock Theft Coordinator Senior Assistant Commissioner Erasmus Makodza, the villagers said in some cases, the suspects had come back into the country to terrorise them again.
They expressed concern at the way the courts were dealing with criminal cases, especially those involving stocktheft and requested permission to punish the offenders. Snr Asst Comm Makodza, however, turned down the appeal saying it was an offence for anyone to take the law into their own hands.
“People should not take the law into their own hands. Any suspected criminals who are apprehended by members of the public should be taken to the police for further investigations,” he said.
He reiterated that the force was lobbying Government and relevant authorities to ensure that criminals who were taken to court would get deterrent sentences.
They should get a minimum of 30 years in jail for stealing one beast so that it sends a warning to other would-be criminals,” said Snr Asst Comm Makodza. He urged cattle farmers to join the crime consultative committees to help the police in fighting crime and to take the cattle branding exercise seriously.
The senior police officers later addressed farmers at Tshitshi Business Centre in Mphoengs, Plumtree, where the people expressed concern over the Botswana Police who they said were shooting and killing their cattle that strayed into the neighbouring country.
Snr Asst Comm Makodza said the laws of the neighbouring country allowed their police to shoot and kill stray cattle in order to control diseases such as foot and mouth. He urged villagers to look after their livestock to prevent them from straying into Botswana. Snr Asst Comm Makodza said between January and October, a total of 518 livestock worth $91 535 were stolen in Plumtree and police managed to recover 185 worth $30 195.
“Of the 518 livestock stolen, 214 were cattle, 115 goats, 62 donkeys, five sheep, five pigs and 117 chickens,” he said. Of the 185 livestock recovered, 62 were cattle, 68 goats, 32 donkeys, four sheep and 19 chickens, while none of the stolen pigs was recovered. In June, police called for an intensified cattle branding exercise in response to an upsurge in stocktheft cases between January and May, compared to the same period last year. Herald