SUSPECTED livestock rustlers have invaded Umguza district, stealing cattle and donkeys from their pens and slaughtering them, with the meat allegedly sold in Bulawayo.
The rustlers are targeting newly-resettled villagers in Maraposa, Redwood, Stella and Makondo.
They are reportedly operating at night, driving livestock a few metres from their pens before slaughtering them.
At one of the victims’ homesteads the rustlers dropped an identity card belonging to a deceased person.
Richard Matshona, a villager from Redwood, popularly known as Mathonisa resettlement area, said livestock rustlers struck in their area last week.
“They took two cattle from Mabhena’s homestead and slaughtered them along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway, just a few metres from the homestead, and left a national identity card belonging to one deceased person,” he said.
“During the same night, they stole one beast from Sibanda’s homestead and three cattle were stolen from Makwelo’s homestead. They also took four donkeys.”
Makondo village headman, Thompson Dube confirmed the matter.
“Villagers have lost a lot of cattle here. We suspect the cattle rustlers are coming from Bulawayo where they would sell the meat to unsuspecting residents,” Dube said.
“We are still making investigations as these people left no spoor because they slaughtered the animals and carried the carcasses away. No arrests have been made so far,” he said.
Matabeleland North police spokesperson Chief Inspector Spiwe Makonese said she was out of office and could not comment.
Livestock rustlers are targeting peri-urban farmers in Matabeleland North and South provinces.
Recently, Bulawayo police arrested a suspected donkey-meat seller, who had allegedly stolen the beast, slaughtered it and sold the meat to unsuspecting residents.
Bulawayo acting police spokesperson Inspector Abednego Ncube confirmed the arrest of Thulani Ncube (39) after he sold donkey meat to residents in St Peters, Pumula.
Police in Matabeleland South have also launched a manhunt for suspected rustlers who allegedly slaughtered three cattle valued at $2 300 last week.
Police said the cattle, belonging to Zwelihle Mpofu, were stolen between March 17 and 19 at Siphapha village in Esigodini.
The thieves reportedly left behind offals and hides at Claremont plots, where they had slaughtered the beasts.
Recently, two suspects who were caught slaughtering two beasts near Chipangali fled the scene, leaving behind the carcasses.