OPUWO: The owner of the four cattle that were stolen from Opuwo and recovered in the Omusati Region accuses the Kunene Police for negligence and slow to react to reported stock theft cases.
The 76 years old Hipombua Muhenje, of Otjindjerese Village in the Opuwo Constituency told Nampa on Wednesday that he visited the Opuwo Police Charge Office twice and reported the case of his stolen cattle on Sunday (15 July) just to be sent back and follow the thieves by himself.
“On the 15 July this year a goat header sow a thief driving four of my cattle facing the direction of Ruacana Town and he come to inform us. A group of men went to follow the footprints and noticed that it was not one person but two people were driving four cattle,” said Muhenje.
According to Kakuzuua Kamana who was part of the group of men who was tracing the thieves and the stolen cattle, some men rushed to the Opuwo Police Station after the footprints where spotted during the same day and informed the police that there were thieves that were spotted driving stolen cattle.
“We were told by the police that, the complaint have been noted and police officers would be informed about the four suspected stolen cattle and that we should go back to follow the trace. To our surprise the police did not asked us the colors of the cattle, no brand marks, ear marks or not even the numbers on the ear tags,” noted Muhenje.
Muhenje told Nampa that they traced the cattle on their own without the assistance of the police until in Ruacana Town after three days and approached the police to find out if they were informed and where busy searching in that area or not.
“The Police at Ruacana informed me that they were not aware that there was cattle stolen from Kunene region or from Opuwo area facing their town,” he complaint.
Muhenje added that the police at Ruacana had a better approach towards him they asked if a case for the stolen cattle was opened in Opuwo or not.
“According to the Ruacana Police’s advice the assistance would be rendered more batter if the case was opened. I was then again shocked to hear that new information which I was not advised or informed at the Opuwo Police,” said Muhenje.
He opened a case at Ruacana Police with CR 10/07/2012 on Tuesday (17 July).
Muhenje had to sell one of his cow to cover the cost of undertaking the search for his four stolen cattle and used N. dollars 2 400 in the process.
“After the case was opened and police notified in Ruacana to be on the lookout. We proceeded to Angola where we were received with high respect, by the Angolan police officers that we could see their concern and ready to combat crime and catch thieves,” said Kamana.
Kamana said that in Angola at Okaluheke village were the police station is, they informed the police station commander and a team was given to them without opening a case and they started searching with us until we were satisfied that the cattle had not yet crossed into Angola.
“We found the cattle on Tuesday (24 July) at Ombuarundu Village after they were spotted by community members who were informed by us to be on the lookout for stolen cattle,” said Kamana.
The cattle were found facing back to Opuwo on their without anyone chasing them Ombuarundu Village is about 170 kilometres from Opuwo.
According to Kamana the Opuwo Police was spotted in Ruacana on Wednesday (18 July) apparently in attempt to trace the cattle and to collect the docket opened in Ruacana and transfer it to Opuwo.
Muhenje and Kamana refused to bring the cattle to the police station for the pictures to be taken, saying that the Opuwo Police is trying to claim victory of recovery of the livestock while they did not contributed in the recovery.
Approached for commend the Deputy Regional Commander of Kunene Police, Deputy Commissioner James Karungojo Nderura said that the farmer was supposed to had been assisted the first date when they reported the case, however there was no petrol at the station.
“The 15 July 2012 when the case was brought to the attention of the police at Opuwo, there was no petrol at the police station not only in Opuwo, but at most police stations in the country due to the supplier Petrol Tech that did not supply on time,” said Nderura.
He added that however the Livestock Theft Unit Commander informed his counterpart in Ruacana about the stolen cattle and requested them to be on the lookout.
“After the petrol was delivered on Tuesday the next day morning the Police officers where send out to Ruacana to collect the docket and also to try and trace the reported cattle,” he noted.
He added that the police take its work very seriously in the Kunene Region, and that there is no way the police will neglect stock theft cases, while they know that livestock farming is the backbone and survival of most of their communities in Kunene.
The CR number after it was registered in Opuwo was CR 28/07/2012 that was registered on Wednesday (18 July). The Opuwo Police also arrested two people in connection of the case of which one was released and on appeared in the Opuwo Magistrate court. The four recovered cattle were valued at N$ 24000.
The case of the cattle appeared in the Opuwo Magistrate Court on Wednesday (25 July) and it was referred back to the police for lack of evidence and the accused was discharged.