Following the recent heavy deployment of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) along the boundary line between Botswana and Zimbabwe to deal with stock theft syndicates, the criminal syndicates have resorted to destabilise the lives of the villagers in Botswana.
Sunday Standard investigations have revealed a village in Zimbabwe that is described as “a no go area”, ruled by high profile criminals who have for a very long time terrorised the residents of Mabolwe, Kobojango and Semolale, in the Bobirwa constituency, by stealing their livestock and other goods.
The criminal syndicates threaten to find ways to destabilise the BDF and residents as revenge for the deployment of more robust manning by army patrols along the border.
The Zimbabwean authorities say they have great difficulty in fighting criminal activity at the so-called ‘no go area’ because of where the village is located.
Recently, Vice President Mompati Merafhe, addressed kgotla meetings on stocktheft in the affected villages and assured the residents that BDF would be deployed along the border.
The determined stock theft criminals braved the large presence of soldiers to cross into Botswana in broad daylight to steal a good number of animals whilst the vice president was addressing the kgotla meetings.
Senior police at Semolale Police Station say they have already located an area in Zimbabwe that the criminals use as a holding ground for stolen Botswana cattle.
He said Shanyaogwe is a “small haven” for criminals and the place is very dangerous.
“With the assistance of our counterparts in Zimbabwe and their community leaders, we made a major breakthrough when about 57 donkeys were recovered from the animal thieves,” said an officer.
He said 39 out of the 57 beasts were identified and given to the owners while the ownership of the remaining number is still in dispute. Investigations are continuing to determine the owners.
He said in one unfortunate incident, a 34-year-old Zimbabwean man, believed to be part of a notorious stock theft syndicate, was brutally beaten by a mob near the border inside Zimbabwe and handed over to the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
He added that yet another 52-year-old Zimbabwean national is being charged with stock theft. He was allegedly found in possession of about 25 cattle belonging to Batswana.
“We hope that the suspect will reveal information about the whereabouts of some of the livestock that are still unaccounted for,” said Tangane.
In his response, the headman of Mabolwe, Join Ngala, said even though they welcome the good news from the VP, they have suffered for a very long time.
“We want to have peace in our village like any other Batswana in the country,” he said. “The deployment of BDF will now bring hope to us.”
Ngala said the government took a good decision to remove the veterinary department from monitoring the movement of livestock between the two countries because they could not cope with increasing incidence of cross border stock theft.
“There is a village called Shanyaogwe where high profile criminals are staying and this is the right time to bust the syndicate,” he said, adding that the village is very dangerous.
He urged the farmers, though still displeased, to go back to their cattle posts of origin.
Another headman of Kobojango, Keabetswe Mokgethi, said, “Freedom is now coming back to my village after a long struggle.” Mokgethi said the deployment of the military will encourage the farmers to re-stock.
Keleapere Baruti, the headman of Semolale, said his people are poor because of the rampant stock theft. He further said, because the farmers have crowded in one area, it was now threatened by soil erosion.