Botswana has allegedly shot 22 cattle that were reportedly stolen from Bulilima District by thieves from that country as the neighbouring country implements its shoot to kill policy against local livestock.
The cattle were allegedly stolen last week from Nswazi area which is located near the border, but the thieves abandoned them after they were intercepted by police from the neighbouring country.
National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed the incident.
“I can confirm that 22 Zimbabwean cattle were shot in Botswana on Monday. These cattle were regarded by Botswana authorities as stray cattle but they were recently reported to have been stolen from Zimbabwe,” she said.
Nswazi headman Senganyodo Jetcheni yesterday said four villagers lost their cattle to thieves suspected to be from Botswana and they traced the spoors to an illegal entry point along the Botswana- Zimbabwe Border line.
He said the matter was reported at Maitengwe Police Base.
The headman said villagers said they received communication that in total 22 cattle, including those belonging to the four villagers, had been stolen and subsequently shot in Botswana.
He said authorities in the neighbouring country classified them as stray cattle.
“We have had a problem of livestock being stolen by Botswana nationals and they drive them into their country. Last week four villagers lost their cattle which were stolen from a grazing area.
“In total 22 cattle were stolen and their spoors were traced to the border line. We reported the matter and we received news that the cattle were shot on Monday as authorities from the neighbouring country had classified them as strays,” he said.
Sources close to the investigations said Botswana officials sent a report to local people on Sunday that they had impounded 22 stray Zimbabwean cattle near Goshwe Primary School in Botswana.
A police source said a delegation comprising of local police officers and officers from the Veterinary Department travelled to the neighbouring country on Monday to recover the cattle but Botswana authorities refused to release them.
The source said the cattle were shot in the presence of local police officers.
“Our colleagues tried to engage the Botswana authorities into releasing the cattle but they refused to co-operate. The cattle were branded and my colleagues indicated that the cattle had been reported as stolen and the matter was under investigation but our counterparts didn’t yield.
“Botswana authorities indicated that an agreement that was made stated that they had to shoot any cattle that strayed from Zimbabwe into Botswana,” said the source.
Botswana authorities recently announced that they were going to implement a shoot to kill policy against all cattle that stray into their territory.
Authorities from the neighbouring country said they had resorted to the policy because stray cattle from Zimbabwe were allegedly affecting beef exports as the country had incidences of foot and mouth disease.
Home Affairs Deputy Minister Obedingwa Mguni said there was a need for people to heed Government’s advice to monitor their cattle.
He appealed to local chiefs to engage their Botswana counterparts over the matter.
“It’s really worrying that the country is losing cattle which are a source of wealth especially in Matabeleland region to Botswana. Government tried to warn people over the issue but it seems some are failing to heed the advice.
“There is a need to intensify awareness on the effects of the Botswana shoot to kill policy in order to avoid further loss. In some cases however, elephants destroy the fence along the border line and create a path for the cattle to stray,” Mguni said.
National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said she was yet to receive a report on the incident.