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Police Lead Efforts to Combat Stock Theft in Gutu Amid Rising Concerns

 Fredrick Mbengwa, the Police commander of the Anti-Stock Theft Committee, visited Gutu yesterday to convene a meeting with Chief Gutu born Lawrence Chigariro, headmen, and village heads. The aim was to address the escalating issue of stock theft, which is causing distress among farmers in the area.

The meeting focused on devising strategies to combat rampant stock theft in the region. Mbengwa was joined by National Police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, Masvingo East District Commander Chief Superintendent Passmore Nhetekwa, and Gutu District Development Coordinator (DDC) Chiedza Tafirei.

One of the key strategies discussed was the establishment of Village Anti-Stock Theft Committees (VASTC), comprising 10 members each. These committees would conduct patrols both day and night, with the authority to question suspicious individuals and search vehicles.

Villagers were advised to train their dogs to guard cattle pens and provided with food. Additionally, they were encouraged to install twine around their cattle areas, connected to tins near their homes, to alert them of any trespassers.

Each village is required to appoint a pound master responsible for keeping track of all stray cattle. Police details dedicated to anti-stock theft operations will also be stationed at tollgates.

During branding, all cattle must bear the owner’s phone number on the brand, with villagers urged to apply for a brand certificate costing US$5.

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Villagers requested quick response teams from the Police in case of stock theft sightings and suggested that Police investigations not be conducted in uniform, citing instances of corruption and collusion with thieves.

Assistant Commissioner Nyathi emphasized the importance of engaging traditional leaders, as thefts often occur within their jurisdictions. He highlighted the effectiveness of VASTCs, especially when members are cattle owners, in curbing stock theft.

Tafirei stressed the urgency of safeguarding the national herd, particularly due to outbreaks of diseases like theileriosis. Villagers were urged to collaborate closely with the Police and take proactive measures to protect their livestock.

Nyathi urged villagers to register for branding certificates and to brand their contact details on their cattle for easy identification and verification. He emphasized the need for constant supervision of grazing livestock to prevent theft.

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