Upper South Coast livestock thieves use new method

By Thobani Mbambo

THEFT of livestock is taking place at a rampant pace on the Upper South Coast, with concern for an apparently new method being used by the thieves.

Several incidents have been reported to police since December in areas such as Hlanzeni, Mnini, Mgobhozini, Inkangala and Magabheni.

Many residents have had their cows stolen and while police are working to solve the crimes, they have come up against a new modus operandi by cattle thieves. While previously, the cattle thieves made off with the cows, they now find a secluded spot close to the site of the theft where they slaughter the cattle during the night.

The next morning, the livestock owners have gone in search of the cattle, only to find the site of the slaughter, which is littered with blood, skin and carcasses which show what took place.

Induna of Ehlanzeni, Mr VJ Mbambo urged the community to come forward and share any available information about the identity of livestock thieves. He said the scourge of livestock theft was a rising problem, which is affecting many owners. The theft has widespread repercussions, as it affects a Zulu man’s dignity when his cows are stolen. The theft was disrespectful, according to the induna. Induna Mbambo was himself a victim of livestock theft twice a few years ago.

He said: “This situation is critical and it needs to be handled with care because those who steal our cows are in our midst. They watch our every action. We must keep our eyes open and hope that one day they will be unlucky and we’ll catch them.”

Magabheni residents livestock thieves use muti so as not to be caught. They believe this because no such thieves have ever been caught.

READ ALSO: Collared Doonside business robbers’ muti fails

“They only have suspicions (about the identity of the thieves) but the rumours point to different people,” said one resident, who asked not to be named.

Concern is also rife about whether the meat from cattle which is slaughtered is being sold to local butchers. It is unclear whether the allegations are valid. Questions have been raised about the quality of such meat, especially in instances where the cattle graze in low-lying valley bush, where a cow’s health is not guaranteed. In addition, concerns around hygiene during the slaughter warrant concern about whether the meat is fit for human consumption.

Other concerns about the police investigations of livestock theft centre around the fact that many such cases are transferred to a specialised Pietermaritzburg-based unit.

Umkomaas police station communication officer Mr Sheik urged local livestock owners to increase the safety of their livestock by, for example, using cattle markings, keeping them in proper enclosures and always count them.

He added: “This will make it easier for us to trace and catch those thieves. People must just not take the law into their hands.”

 

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  AUTHOR
Thobani Mbambo

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