Stolen cattle recovered from Meatco

07 September 2018 Author   Michael Uugwanga

At least nine stolen cattle have been recovered from Meatco’s Okapuka Feedlot situated along the Windhoek-Okahandja road, NamPol’s investigative officer, Joseph Kanguaiko, confirmed on Thursday.At least nine stolen cattle have been recovered from Meatco’s Okapuka Feedlot situated along the Windhoek-Okahandja road, NamPol’s investigative officer, Joseph Kanguaiko, confirmed on Thursday.

Warrant Officer Kanguaiko told the Windhoek Observer that he accompanied farmer, Festus Tjiukua, to the Okapuka Feedlot on Thursday to help him recover his stolen animals. 
“As we speak, we are here at Okapuko Feedlot loading the cattle that belongs to Festus after he identified his cattle. The manager at Okapuko feedlot (Frikkie Booysen) refused to cooperate, but we are still busy with investigations,” Kanguaiko said. 
Former NUDO representative in the National Assembly, Arnold Tjihuiko, managed to track one of his five cattle that were stolen between October and December last year to Meatco’s Okapuka Feedlot following a tip off.
“I have lost five cattle between October and December. I do not know how the cattle ended up there (Okapuka). I just got a tip from some people in Okakarara informing me about my cattle,” Tjihuiko said. 
His cattle were stolen from his farm, situated some 32 kilometers outside the town of Okakarara in the Otjozondjupa Region.
Tjihuiko said one of the cattle was already slaughtered when he visited the feedlot on Wednesday and he left the carcass there.
“I have opened a case against the manager of Meatco Okapuka Feedlot,” Tjihuiko said.
NUDO president, Asser Mbai, also said that he had recovered one out of four cattle that were stolen from his farm about 17 kilometres outside Okakarara on the way to Otjituuo area in the Otjozondjupa Region.
“I lost four and the other three are still not recovered. Cattle theft here is high. I even know the family members of the people that stole the cattle.” 
Mbai said he only recovered one cattle because he could not find documents to prove ownership of the others.
The Windhoek Observer was not able to identify the other farmer who recovered five cattle at Okapuka by the time of going to print. 
Rosa Thobias, Meatco's Manager for Corporate Affairs, confirmed that five cattle had been recovered at the feedlot, but blamed cattle auctioneers for selling the stolen cattle. 
“Meatco now and then buys animals from different identified producers and auctions (as per the procedures of the feedlot).  In this case it was from the Hochfeld Livestock Producer who bought the cattle from Windhoek Livestock Auctioneers,” Thobias said.   
She said Meatco as an established business would never deliberately buy stolen animals from farmers or auctions.   
“The three farmers came to Okapuka Feedlot to claim that their stolen cattle are here (Okapuka).  We gave them the benefit of the doubt and luckily, two farmers identified their cattle positively, through brand marks, earmarks and visual identification.   
“Five cattle and three cattle respectively were handed back to their rightful owners. We are now in the process of recovering our money from the auctioneers.  
“One farmer identified his cattle, but there was no valid brand mark on the animal so we did not return it to him,” Thobias added. 
Windhoek Livestock Auctioneers consultant, John Venter, said they have only realised it now that they have been buying stolen cattle.
He said they have since come up with a new policy when buying cattle from clients in order to eliminate buying stolen cattle.
“I am very much aware of the stolen cattle we have been buying. The problem is that we have been allowing these people to come with the cattle after 18H00 and it makes it so difficult to carry out any investigations. 
“We will now be very strict on permit registrations and the proper branding on the ear for an animal or other part of the body,” Venter said.
The Okapuka Feedlot is an intensive animal production system which helps animals younger than 18 months, but weighing more than 280 kilograms, to achieve the desired marketability.
Cattle at the feedlot are sourced from communal and commercial producers south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence. Ideally, large frame bulls are preferred for the feedlot and the price paid to the producer is determined on the hoof.
The feedlot has been operational since 1996, but before that, it was located just outside Okahandja, on the road leading to Otjiwarongo.
Last month, Meatco Acting Chief Executive Officer, Jannie Breytenbach, warned that the meat processing and marketing company could lose its lucrative export markets in Europe if cattle numbers available for slaughter continue dwindling. 
In June, Meatco Chairperson, Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun, bemoaned the ever-growing trend of exporting livestock on the hoof, which saw a total of 315,198 cattle leaving the country in 2017 compared to 164,220 in 2016, saying such a trend is worrisome as it negatively impacts on the availability of livestock for throughput at local abattoirs.

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