As stock theft cases escalate, police say that most of the meat consumed in major towns and villages is from stolen livestock making stock theft one of the most lucrative undertakings in the country.
The revelation comes after police in Palapye confiscated a substantial number of stolen beasts as well as leather from those already slaughtered as exhibits of stock theft in the area. Information passed to The Telegraph indicates that┬ácertain attorneys are suspected to be linked to these hideous acts as there are allegations of them conniving with criminals. Assistant superintendent Thito Freeman from the Stock Theft Unit based in Mahalapye has revealed that most of the meat consumed on the market is suspected to have been stolen as the country is rocked by stock theft cases that are becoming difficult to contain.
He identified Gaborone, Francistown, Palapye and other major villages as the hard hit areas where such meat has flooded the market. He indicated that Tswapong is currently leading in stock theft cases. He further explained that they have already identified about three criminal syndicates made up of about five men aged below 40. The criminal syndicates are believed to operate between Palapye and Tswapong areas.
“The good news is that the Unit has cracked some of the members of the syndicates and about fifteen suspects have been arrested and appeared before the courts of law ,“ he said.
He said beef products are in demand and stock theft has become a well paying job as the demand for meat remains high on a daily basis. This is so serious to the extent that some of the butcheries rely on stolen livestock for supplies.
“Most stock theft suspects or convicts hardly quit in stock theft as most of them are repeat offenders and that clearly shows how lucrative the job is.”
When asked whether some attorneys might be implicated in stock theft, he replied that “I wouldn’t want to comment much for now”.
Most of stock theft suspects leave lavish lives and you never know where they keep their money, he said.
He stated that stock theft investigation is very difficult and complex and nowadays suspected criminals prefer to be tried in magistrate courts where they exercise their right to legal representation as opposed to customary courts which do not give attorneys audience.
What hurts the most, he said is that in most cases suspects go on and commit the same offence while on bail.
However Freeman said it is unfortunate that his Unit has not yet cracked criminal syndicates that specialise in stealing small stock especially goats and this also remains a major concern.
┬áKgosi Mmirwa Malema ┬áof Bobonong concurred with Freeman;“It is true that stock theft has now taken the centre stage and has become a concern and such criminals are depriving farmers of their precious diamonds.”
He said if stock theft cases were not transferred to magistrate courts for purposes of legal representation, customary courts could successfully try and eliminate stock theft cases.
Meanwhile sometime back Kgatleng and Kweneng were labelled as the hubs of stock theft that led the police management to introduce a specialised unit that deals with stock theft headed by assistant commissioner Joseph Motlhagodi.