Cattle rustlers accused of poisoning chief’s weaners

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Kae MaÞunÿu-Tjiparuro

Windhoek-A traditional leader and farmer in the Epukiro Constituency in Eiseb communal area got the shock of his life upon returning home recently from official duties in South Africa where he was representing his community.
Chief Turimuro Hoveka of the Otjimana/Hoveka Royal House and Traditional Authority returned home to the village of Ombuyoforomana to find five of his cattle poisoned with irium. The chief has no doubt about who was behind the despicable act, cattle rustlers.

Since January the constituencies of Epukiro and Otjombinde in Omaheke Region have seen an increased number of cases of stock theft, in which commercial farmers in the areas who have been buying the cattle have been implicated for acquiring cattle from suspected rustlers without the necessary documents, and even buying cattle without the necessary brand marks.

Hoveka, a community leader and also part of the local ommunity stock theft committee, has been at the forefront of tracing the stolen animals, some of which were found on adjacent commercial farms and this may have earned him the wrath of the suspected rustlers.

According to him, he received news of the poisoning of four of his weaners from his wife and children, who related to him that when the weaners arrived at his homestead in the village of Ombuyaforomana, they let them into the kraal to drink water from the trough.

After having drunk the water the weaners started to go wild as if affected by mad cow disease and thereafter all four died. A veterinarian went to take samples from the cattle’s digestive systems, as well as from the trough, which were taken to the laboratory in Gobabis for tests, which later confirmed that the animals indeed died from urium poisoning.

Hoveka says between 20 and 40 cattle stolen from communal areas, such as Epukiro, Eiseb, Otjinene in the Omaheke and Okondjatu in the Okakarara Constituency in Otjozondjupa Region were located on some commercial farms in Omaheke since the beginning of the year.

Lately, one stolen beast was found at the Okapuka Feedlot near Windhoek, two more cattle at Witvlei and another two on the farm of an identified commercial farmer. These cases and many others have been reported to the police, which are seized with them.

Hoveka says one of the commercial farmers on whose farm some of the cattle were found had not been cooperative, but he was very happy with the cooperation they got from another.

Hoveka expects the police to take the matter to its logical conclusion, which is prosecution of the suspects, especially of commercial farmers who act as accomplices of suspected cattle rustlers, from whom they seem to have reportedly been buying cattle without the necessary documents and without verifying ownership of the cattle from the sellers, given the absence of brandmarks.

Hoveka is happy with the fact that the matter is now being dealt with by the Gobabis police and hopes that the culprits will be brought to book, unlike in past cases dealt with by the local police that produced no tangible results, despite some cases having dragged on for years.

He said the cattle found on the commercial farms may only be the tip of the iceberg, as by the time the stock theft committee and the police reached the suspect farms, some of the cattle may have already been sold or moved to other places where they could not be found.

He says that is why the police must be ever vigilant and must monitor the suspect farms and farmers.

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