Less livestock stolen in 2012
By Deon Schlechter
WINDHOEK – Although less livestock were stolen countrywide last year than in 2012 and indications are it had something to do with the drought, Namibian farmers are still living in fear of the evil of game and stock theft as the rainy season comes to an end.
Indications are that farmers have all the reason to believe that stock theft might increase again this year as they will be selling much less livestock, resulting in more animals available for poachers. This concern was expressed recently when the Namibian Agricultural Union (NAU) and the Namibia Professional Hunters Association (NAPHA) held an urgent meeting to address the way forward regarding game and livestock theft and poaching. Willem Enslin represents the Grootfontein, Tsumeb and Otavi Area Crime Prevention Forum and is part of the Joint Crime Prevention Forum. He has written a document (proposed strategy to combat stock theft and poaching in Namibia) that has been handed over to the NAU by Enslin and will also be handed over to relevant stakeholders and/or authorities.
However, during a recent meeting between the NAU and NAPHA regarding anti-poaching efforts, the NAU and NAPHA appointed Richard Mueller (Richard Mueller Legal Practitioners) to draft a step-by-step instruction manual, offering legally sound advice to our members (NAU and NAPHA members) on the do’s and don’ts when confronted with any illegal activity (e.g. poaching) on their property. The document/manual will be easy to follow, distribute and to put into action. This manual will then be distributed amongst the NAU and NAPHA membership.
Statistics made available by Nampol last year, indicate that 401 less cases of stock theft were reported in 2013 than the year before. Of the livestock stolen in 2013, 916 arrests were executed in that regard.
Nampol spokesperson, Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi, says that the decrease in cases reported came as a result of the drought experienced last year around the country. He adds that because of the severe drought experienced, farmers either sold their animals when they realised that their stock was affected by the drought or alternatively let them die due to lack of food and water.
Statistics for 2012 reveal that a total of 4 589 head of cattle were stolen and 9 863 head of small livestock. In 2013, 3 424 heads of big livestock were stolen, and 5 676 heads of small livestock. Statistics for the four northern regions, prominent for livestock farming, revealed that stock worth about N$1.1 million were reported stolen in 2012, of which only N$415 982 worth of livestock were recovered in that same year.
Last year, livestock worth N$991 600 were reported stolen in the Ohangwena region, and only N$339 800 worth of livestock were recovered by the end of that year. One of the arrests made was of a headman in that region, who was suspected of organising the theft of donkeys with his accomplices, and then selling them to those who needed them to plough their mahangu fields.
Kanguatjivi notes that the periods that yielded an increase in stock theft were also attributed to environmental factors like rain in the areas. The Police also notes that during some periods, the value of stock fluctuated because of factors like the type of breed or area of breed which varies from region to region. In some regions, the value of stock increases as a result of competition, and in other regions the value may have decreased. Small stock stolen was mainly used for commercial, private and farming purposes. Kanguatjivi also notes that some cases were not reported immediately after the animals were stolen and in some instances, theft of stock was only reported months after the incident occurred. “Some of the latest reports involve inheritance-related issues, and farmers failing to mark their animals to identify them,” says the Deputy Commissioner.
He also attributes the loss of livestock to unsupervised stock roaming around freely, and a lack of control or farm management. Kanguatjivi urges farmers to connect themselves to farmers’ associations and forums, which work in conjunction with the Police, and to report any incidences of stolen livestock immediately as well as any suspicious movements around their farms.