THE Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) has expressed its concern over the surge in stock theft cases recently recorded across the country.
Aug. 22, 2021
2 min read
LDF vows to root out stock theft
Recovered cattle kept at a police kraal
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The army says unless the problem that has troubled Lesotho for generations is urgently rooted out, it could have dire consequences on the already insubstantial economy.
In a statement, the LDF said, in just a week, it has recovered over 90 stolen sheep in different parts of the country.
On August 7, members of the LDF stopped four rustlers from crossing 30 sheep and three cattle into South Africa in Maputsoe.
"Upon interrogation by the army, the suspects failed to produce legal documentation proving ownership of the livestock that was in their possession, hence they were later handed over to the Maputsoe police," explained the statement.
On the same date, 57 sheep were recovered in Mafika-Lisiu, Ha Mothae, Butha-Buthe, after thieves allegedly shot and injured their shepherd. The man was later admitted to hospital with serious gunshot wounds.
In the same district, last week in Ha Phoku, six sheep were recovered in a forest near the border between Lesotho and SA after the army received a tip off from the members of the public.
According to Chief Morojele Mohanoe of Ha Potlaki in Butha-Buthe, the modus operandi of stock thieves depends on whether the theft is for survival or re-sale.
If for survival, only a few animals are stolen or slaughtered, with the thieves taking what they can carry and leaving the rest of the carcasses behind.
Criminal syndicates plan their operations carefully, usually drawing on three to five individuals. A scout watches the movement of the livestock and alerts gang members who steal the animals and remove them, using trucks.
The Institute for Security Studies (A Case Study of Lesotho) indicates that porous and poorly secured borders between the two countries contribute to the problem.
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"Large parts of the border fences are stolen, and monitoring long boundaries and mountainous terrain is difficult for police. This creates many opportunities and trafficking routes for criminal networks to smuggle livestock, drugs and firearms," reads the study.
According to the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS), more than 2 000 cases of stolen cattle, horses, goats, sheep and pigs are reported annually countrywide and in a desperate bid to protect their families and property from the ruthless robbers, villagers end up resorting to illegal means of acquiring firearms, compounding an already complex situation.
With the majority of families in rural areas relying on livestock for their livelihoods, losing their animals is such a catastrophe that many find difficult to recover from, in some instances leading to their premature deaths.