Police have launched an operation targeting illegal meat vendors in and around Harare to curb stock theft activities and the blitz has so far seen 231 people being arrested.
The operation was launched following an increase in stock theft activities in which farmers have been losing their goats and cattle to thieves who sell them to various people for resell as meat.
Some of the thieves have also developed a habit of slaughtering the stolen livestock which they would transport to various destinations using plastic containers for resell.
Most of this meat is believed to be the ones sold at shopping centres while other meat is supplied to illegal butcheries and food outlets.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the operation was continuing until there is sanity countrywide.
“We have continued to make notable arrests during the ongoing operation, “No to illegal meat vending,” and so far 231 arrests have been made.
“We would like to warn all those involved in such activities that our police officers are on the ground and they will be arrested,” he said.
He said such activities have been fuelling stock theft activities and urged the public to ensure that they buy meat in licenced butcheries and abattoirs.
Despite these stock theft cases falling below last year’s levels, police have continued to intensify patrols to combat the scourge.
Recently, Asst Comm Nyathi warned stock thieves that they will be arrested and prosecuted.
On September 8, police in Norton intercepted three unknown male suspects who were driving a herd of 20 cattle, reportedly stolen from Highfield Farm in Norton at around 1.45am.
Upon noticing the police officers, the suspects vanished into the darkness. Police recovered the herd comprising 11 heifers, five cows and four steers.
Police in Figtree also arrested Khulekani Nyoni (19) for stock theft after he was seen by a community member driving 10 stolen cattle along Gwayi River, in the Solusi area.
His accomplice, identified as Mphathi Ndonga is on the run, and police are urging anyone with information to report to any nearest police station.
Nearly 3 800 cattle have been reported stolen countrywide this year, while 336 thieves were arrested for stock theft. But the number of cattle stolen is falling.
Police statistics show that between January and June this year, 3 214 animals were reported stolen compared to 4 053 reported during the same period last year.
The number of stolen cattle decreased from 5 954 in 2021 to 3 762 this year.
Interestingly, 1 073 cattle have so far been recovered this year compared to 1 054 in 2021.
During the same period this year, police arrested 336 suspects for stock theft involving cattle compared to 398 arrests last year.
Asst Comm Nyathi said despite the decrease in stock theft, the figures involving stock theft remain high, hence the need for continued co-operation between the police and community.
In Madziva, Mashonaland Central Province, a suspect was convicted and sentenced to 27 years’ jail for theft of 13 cattle. In another case which occurred in Matabeleland North Province, a suspect was convicted and sentenced to nine years’ in jail stealing one heifer.
In 2017, police launched a nationwide clampdown on illegal meat vendors and backyard food outlets as part of measures to fight livestock theft.
The operation, codenamed “Eradicate Street/Open Air Meat and Food Vendors”, was first launched in Harare and Bulawayo, where police arrested 340 offenders and closed down 13 butcheries and confiscated 458kg of meat between March and May 2017.Herald