Communal farmers at Gam in Tsumkwe Constituency in Otjozondjupa have implored government to intensify investigations into stock theft, which is rampant in the area.
Speaking to New Era on Tuesday, the senior traditional leader of the Kambazembi Royal House, Tjizoo Tjizoo said he is surprised at the continued theft of their livestock, despite the police presence in the area.
He also complained that when they successfully manage to apprehend thieves and hand them over to the police the police free them without any satisfactory explanation.
“These criminals will return to the communities immediately to resume stock theft,” he stressed. He proposed that a task force be set up, consisting of farmers, the defence and security forces, and government representatives to investigate ways of eliminating out-of-control livestock theft.
A police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, admitted that indeed stock theft is the biggest problem confronting the rural settlement. He said in most cases thieves will be coming from outside the area to commit crimes.
“Mind you, these are highly organised criminals and they operate in groups,” he said. He added that some criminals steal cattle from Okakarara and exchange them for cattle from the Gam area to unsuspecting livestock farmers.
Another farmer, Katjikuta Kandjeo, said the criminals have adopted more sophisticated tactics, “and everything indicates that they enjoy the protection of some police officers.”
“Last year alone I lost more than 200 goats to thieves and this has left me with no other option, but to abandon small livestock farming,” he said.
Furthermore, communal farmers are also calling for the introduction of agricultural outlets, such Agra and Kaap Agri to open branches in the remote area of Gam.
Kandjeo said the other challenge they face as farmers is the lack of fodder in the area. “The biggest challenge we face as farmers is acquiring fodder. The nearest town here is either Grootfontein or Gobabis and they are both 400 kilometers away and this makes it very difficult for us as farmers to acquire fodder,” he said.
To get fodder from either Gobabis or Grootfontein he would need to spent more than N$1000 in transport costs, which he says is very expensive.
Furthermore, farmers called on the government to repair and to drill more boreholes in the area to address perennial water shortages as they have to travel long distances to get water.
They said most of them have moved to Gam just because of water scarcity. “We acknowledge government efforts, but we believe that more can be still done,” Tjizoo said.