The noose is gradually tightening on rampant cattle banditry in Caprivi after a high-level meeting at Katima Mulilo on Wednesday.
The meeting was convened by Caprivi Regional Governor, Leonard Mwilima, and attended by Regional Police Commander, Commissioner Tyves Kampolo, Sibbinda Councillor Felix Mukupi and intelligence functionaries from the Office of the President.
Its sole agenda was the scourge of armed cattle bandits from Zambia, who have intensified their clandestine activities of wantonly stealing cattle.
Confirming the meeting, Mwilima said: “We discussed and we realised that there is a (serious) problem of cattle thefts. All efforts are being made and all the stakeholders are being consulted to see how we can handle the problem of cattle thefts.”
Mwilima said, though, relations between the Caprivi Regional Council and his counterpart the Sesheke District Commissioner of Zambia, Wanyambe Mwiya are sound and cordial. He has asked for a meeting with him in connection with cattle banditry.
“I will meet and engage him at a meeting scheduled for next week. It’s just a way of strengthening our relations because we have been working very well with my counterpart (Mwiya), especially when we have the seasonal problem of floods,” said Mwilima.
The Commander of the Katima Mulilo Police Station, Chief Inspector Frederick Nalisa, revealed that during recent weeks, police have intensified their operations and have reinforced anti-stock theft operations.
This follows an outcry in Caprivi that gangs of marauding cattle thieves from Zambia are besieging the region with daytime and nocturnal armed raids on cattle posts.
Mukupi said these cattle raiders armed with AK-47s have so far stolen over 2 000 cattle at Kasheshe, Bito, Sachinga, Kaenda, Sikubi, Kaliyangile, Sibbinda and Linyanti, leaving many villagers destitute.
The Regional Governor, who was accompanied by Mukupi and other senior officials, recently briefed Prime Minister Nahas Angula on the scale of destitution being wrought on villagers by stock thieves.
Nalisa has confirmed that armed cattle thieves, who take advantage of the porous Namibia/Zambia border, steal cattle and smuggle them across the unguarded border.
He cited an incident several months ago when a gang of bandits ambushed and shot several policemen dispatched to track and arrest them in a mission that had to be aborted.
Nalisa said in September, seven stock-theft cases involving 59 cattle were reported to the police. This prompted him to deploy police detachments along the border on anti-stock theft missions that seem to serve as deterrents for now.
Mukupi said in some instances, cattle raiders hold panic-stricken herders at gunpoint and take cattle that they drive across the border for sale in the lucrative black-market in Zambia.
He said villagers in the targeted areas spend sleepless nights, as they are afraid of armed cattle bandits.
Mwilima and Mukupi recently met senior indunas at Kaliyangile with whom they discussed at length the issue of stock thieves, a phenomenon that has impoverished many people.
Mukupi has also appealed to villagers with unlicensed firearms to hand them over to the police, as they contribute to general instability in the Caprivi Region.
Kunene Region bordering Angola also faces a similar problem of rampant stock thefts that are partly spurred by a huge demand for beef at informal butcheries in Angola.
The New Era (Namibia)