Likwama Farmers Union chairperson Alfred Chilinda says farmers in the Zambezi region will remain vulnerable to stock theft if they continue to employ Zambians as cattle herders.
Zambezi regional farmers are losing cattle valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars on a regular basis as their cattle are stolen and taken to Zambia to be sold for less than their true value.
Chilinda yesterday said farmers should stop hiring undocumented Zambian nationals as cattle herders.
“It is very difficult to stop or eradicate the syndicate, because livestock owners have created a loophole by relying on Zambian cattle herders.
“At present, none of the farmers in the region have employed locals to care for their cattle. In most cases the cattle herders are working together with thieves, and as a result farmers can lose all their livestock at once,” he said.
He called upon the government to come to the aid of the poor farmers whose votes they rely on during elections, as the stock theft crisis is getting out of hand.
“The police are doing all they can to curb stock theft through patrols and by assisting the farmers to trace their stolen cattle into Zambia.
“However, the government needs to do more by at least deploying soldiers along the Namibia-Zambia borderline, which would hopefully lessen stock theft cases. It is better to prevent it from happening than to start acting after it happens,” Chilinda said.
Zambezi regional police commander commissioner Andreas Shilelo yesterday said about 118 head of cattle valued at N$822 500 have been reported stolen between January and March.
He said out of the stolen cattle, only 35 have been recovered, and the rest, valued at N$638 500, are lost.
“We have arrested 16 suspects – 10 Namibians, five Zambians, and one Motswana,” Shilelo said.
Shilelo said during the 2021/22 financial year, about 493 head of cattle valued at N$3 327 300 were stolen, of which only 275 were recovered.
He said the police arrested 20 Namibians and 13 Zambians.
During the 2022/23 financial year, Shilelo said about 820 head of cattle valued at N$4 642 390 were stolen, of which 467 were recovered.
He said the police arrested 30 Namibians, 20 Zambians, and one Motswana during this time.
“The farmers will remain vulnerable because they are hiring Zambians as cattle herders, who are from the same country as the thieves.
“The cattle herders also become careless because they are not paid enough. If they happen to pay the cattle herders enough and on time, the thieves would not have an opportunity to convince them to join the syndicate to earn an income,” he said.
Shilelo implored farmers to report stolen cattle on time and for the community to continue reporting any suspicious movements.