THE Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) recently busted cattle rustling operation and recovered eight beasts in the Tsatsa-Lemeno in the district of Qacha’s Nek near the border with the South Africa.
In a statement to the Lesotho Times, the LDF’s Public Relations Office, said the cattle were recovered last week due to the efforts of Private Motebang Tšeole who led some soldiers from their outpost in search of the cattle.
LDF Brigade Commander, Brigadier Posa Stemere said Pvt Tšeole’s “actions undoubtedly prevented the loss of the animals and his actions were in the highest traditions of the army”.
“Eight cattle had disappeared in the Tsatsa-Lemeno village and the soldiers on duty showed an unwavering determination to recover the stock with the support from the community.
“On that fateful night of 11 February at about 1am, Pvt Tšeole reacted with diligence to a phone call from Chief Lekhooa Selo of Sekokoaneng village where the soldiers are deployed at an outpost. The call informed him about the theft of eight cattle in the nearby village of Tsatsa-Lemeno under Chief Lebamang Sehlabo. Pvt Tšeole and his troops followed the trail of the animals on foot after to a place near the border with Matatiele, South Africa.
“The search for cattle went on through the fog and chilly morning until about 9am when they recovered cattle and handed them back to the owner, Ms Nocayalethu Boki. The cattle were found tied up in the bush and the thieves had fled after realising that they were being followed by the soldiers.”
Chief Sehlabo applauded the the soldiers and “encouraged the army to keep up the good work”.
LDF Director of Operations, Lieutenant Colonel Motenalapi Mohololi also applauded the soldiers’ good work which saw them come to the rescue of the community.
“We are massively proud to have soldiers of this calibre, who understand the role they are required to perform” said Lieutenant Mohololi said.
Lt-Col Mohololi revealed that through various operations last December, the LDF recovered more than 400 stolen cattle, 700 sheep and 161 goats. They also confiscated a considerable number of firearms of various calibres.
The LDF command has deployed its members at crime hotspots around the country to combat criminal activities including stock theft.
The district of Qacha’s Nek is a hotspot due to the high levels of stock theft and the Sekokoaneng village is seen as the “epicentre of rustling” hence the establishment of a permanent army post in 2018.
“The army post in Sekokoaneng village serves the villages in the vicinity of the border with Matatiele and the plan is to block the Tsatsa-Lemeno and other tributary areas that were habitually used as escape routes by criminals between Lesotho and RSA.
“Patrolling the borders, preserving lives and protecting community property falls within the jurisdiction of the army. The reaction of our members and their dedication to duty leaves no doubt that the translation of policy into concrete missions and tasks is well understood by subordinates,” said the Battalion Commander Lt-Col Senatla Damane, whose battalion is deployed to the army forward bases to ensure the security of the country.
“Our relationship with the communities at our various posts has been cordial and it is helping in the realisation of fruitful results”, Lt-Col Damane said.