Smugglers are vandalising the Plumtree border post fence thereby increasing incidents of stock theft in villages along the frontier, with stolen livestock reportedly being driven across the border.
Villagers and traditional leaders from the affected areas told the ZBC News that these activities have gone out of control, with a herd of seven cattle recently stolen and driven through the border post and slaughtered on the Botswana side.
“People who destroy the border fence are causing lots of crimes this side as we have lost several cattle. We need armed forces to guard the border because as residents, we are limited, considering that these thieves will be armed.” said Junior Masisa, a villager.
“ In Vaka Village, petrol smugglers have destroyed the border fence and our cattle are being stolen and driven through the opening. Seven cattle were recently stolen, and it is very painful to know that some of them belong to a widow in our area,” added Masisa.
Macigwana village’s Chief Ashel Wasi Ndiweni said his village is in the process of establishing a joint security committee between Zimbabwe and Tswana villagers , that will help in patrolling the border on both ends and secure their belongings.
“We have a huge problem of livestock being stolen and smuggled to Botswana and some being smuggled from Botswana into the country. Villagers are unhappy. We are planning to establish a committee that will take care of such issues on both sides of the border,” said Chief Ndiweni.
A Magcobafuthi Line herdsman, Innocent Tshaka expressed the same sentiments, blaming petrol smugglers for the vandalism of the border post and stock theft occurring in the villages.
“Petrol smugglers are responsible for vandalising the border fence. Through that, we have lost goods and livestock which cannot be retrieved as they are quickly smuggled out of the country,” said Tshaka.
According to district police records, stock theft cases in Matabeleland South Province have gone above 400 since the beginning of 2019, with Plumtree contributing the largest figure compared to other districts along the borderline.