VILLAGERS at Magalani in Matopo have complained of several incidents of poisoned cattle, while some of them are reportedly being axed by illegal settlers occupying grazing land.
The illegal settlers are allegedly buying the land from “corrupt local leaders.”
Disgruntled villagers told Southern Eye that this started after the death of Chief Lenard Mathe seven years ago. One of the victims, Sibonokuhle Sibanda said her family lost several cattle after they were axed by the illegal settlers.
“Last year seven cows were poisoned. Others were axed a few months later by the invaders.
“This year again I found five cows bleeding in the bush after they were axed, and I suspect that they were attacked by the land invaders in the area.”
Sibanda said she reported the matter to the police last year who advised her to sit down with community members and leaders to resolve the issue. She was told that people that committed the crime were minors who could not be charged.
“I applied for a peace order between me and the attackers but the court dismissed the application and insisted on a community peace meeting even though we told them that we do not have a chief in the area to facilitate and resolve such issues.
“The case then ended without resolution,” she said.
Ward 9 councillor Bekezela Moyo confirmed the matter. Moyo blamed the criminal activities on corrupt traditional leaders.
“We have community leaders and members who sell grazing land to strangers. Now there is conflict between community members and the invaders, which has escalated making it hard for me as a councillor to solve it since we do not have a chief,” Moyo said.
“Many cows have been axed and killed. Homes have also been burnt by angry community members. Even though steps were taken to report these issues, no proper charges were laid on the criminals.”
He said several villagers lost cattle due to conflicts between illegally settlers and community members.
Matabeleland South police spokesperson Inspector Loveness Mangena said they had not received reports pertaining to livestock poisoning.
Mangena said anyone caught axing or poisoning other people’s livestock would be arrested.
“We urge the community to report such crimes to the police,” Mangena said.