In recent years, cattle farmers in Ankole Sub-region have faced a growing crisis of cattle theft, leading some to take desperate measures such as sleeping in kraals to protect their valuable livestock. According to police records covering the first half of this year, the Rwizi policing region, encompassing several districts in the Ankole Sub-region, has witnessed a staggering 400 cases of animal theft.
The surge in cattle theft has prompted a significant shift in police tactics as they launch a severe crackdown on these criminals. Samson Kasasira, the Rwizi regional police spokesperson, announced their intensified efforts to combat this rampant issue. Numerous suspects are being apprehended and brought to justice.
To illustrate the severity of the problem, one case from Kazo District stands out. On October 3, the police arrested Mr. Bright Muhereza for the alleged theft of four cows intended for a bride price. Mr. Muhereza was apprehended, along with four others, when his father-in-law requested grazing space from the owner of the stolen cows. Subsequently, Mr. Muhereza faced charges of cattle theft.
In Kiruhura District, police are currently detaining seven suspects, all hailing from Kinoni Sub-county. These individuals are accused of stealing cows and goats. Their arrest on October 8 followed the alleged theft of goats belonging to Mr. Frank Nabimanya, a resident of Ekinoni Village in Kasana Parish.
Mr. Kasasira also mentioned the arrest of Tugume Alex, a 52-year-old resident of Nyakasharara Trading Centre in Kiruhura Town Council, for possessing meat suspected to be stolen. The rise in cattle theft is a growing concern, particularly in Kazo District, where even top district leaders are implicated. However, with increased deployment and checkpoints, there is hope that the situation will improve.
Despite these law enforcement efforts, Mr. Mukago Rutetebya, the Kiruhura District chairperson, places some blame on the cattle farmers themselves. He suggests that their lack of vigilance in protecting their animals, along with thefts committed by farm managers and even relatives, contributes to the ongoing problem.
This cattle theft crisis is not a recent phenomenon. According to the Police Annual Crime Report of 2022, there were a total of 7,975 cases of cattle theft reported from January to December 2022, surpassing the 6,810 cases reported the previous year. In 2022, the Rwizi region had the highest number of cattle theft cases, with 809 reported incidents, followed by North Kyoga (718), Albertine (547), and Rwenzori West (531).