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Cattle thefts rock districts despite curfew, FMD quarantine restrictions

Luwero, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Districts in the cattle corridor are experiencing an increase in cattle thefts despite the curfew declared by the government and a ban on movement of livestock following the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease-FMD.

Farmers in the districts of Nakasongola, Nakaseke, Luwero, Lyantonde and Sembabule, as well as in Sebei and Lango sub-regions have lost their livestock to thieves who raid farms during curfew hours.

In Nakasongola and Luwero districts, at least 96 heads of cattle have been stolen during curfew since it was revised in June this year. In Lyantonde 67 animals, 54 and 40 thefts were registered in Lango and Sebei sub-regions respectively in June.

Last week, residents of Bulyake village in Kasangombe lynched a suspected cattle thief and burned a vehicle after getting reports that they were allegedly transporting meat from stolen animals.

The seven suspected thieves raided two homes at Lwetunga village in Kapeeka sub-county in Nakaseke district and stole heads of cattle.

Colleb Mwebaze, the LC V chairperson Lyantonde District Farmers’ Cooperative Society says farmers are counting very huge losses. He blames the security agencies for failing to stop the thefts.

Mwebaze explains that the Crime Investigations Department has failed in their roles of pursuing the thieves despite repeated complaints from farmers.

Moses Muramuzi, another affected cattle keeper suspects there could be connivance between local security personnel and the cattle thieves. He wonders how they can get their way out of the district with stolen cattle during curfew hours without being arrested.

He says they have tried to institute safety measures on top of the Ministry of Agriculture guidelines that require all animals to have movement permits and only be slaughtered from gazetted places as a way of easing follow-ups, but their frustrations have been on the side of enforcement by security.

Alfred Jawaso Engim, the Ibuje town council chairperson in Alebtong district blames the thefts on connivance between the suspects and the village council leaders. He says that the leaders issue the permits to the thieves which they use to transport the stolen animals to markets.

Jawaso says the local government is mooting for a bylaw to restrict the loading of animals to only during the day and at specific points.

Jimmy Patrick Okema, the North Kyoga Regional Police Spokesperson says most of these cases go unreported to police hence partly abetting the crime in the community.

“Stealing cattle is a crime and it applies to all kinds of animals like goats, sheep, pigs and others not only cows as it may sound and that is the reason why most people do not report the cases to police because they do not know and that is why it is not common in our report,” he says.

In the Sebei sub-region, Fredmark Chesang, the Sipi Regional Police Spokesperson says they are also working towards eliminating livestock thefts. He however says that their challenge is on farmers who leave their animals to roam, which attracts the thieves.

However, Catherine Kamwine, the Lyantonde Resident District Commissioner says fighting animal theft needs collaborative efforts of both the cattle keepers and security personnel.

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