Cattle theft: Locals oppose erection of kraal in Kitgum

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One of the communal kraals in Agoro Hills in Agago District that was set up to fight cattle rustling. In Kitgum District, the locals have rejected erecting a similar shelter. PHOTO | TOBBIAS JOLLY OWINY

Cattle keepers in Orom Sub-county, Kitgum District, are opposed to a resolution by the district security committee to erect a community kraal in a bid to curb the increasing theft of animals by suspected Karimojong and South Sudanese cattle rustlers.

The locals say keeping animals in one kraal will lead to the spread of animal diseases in case of an outbreak.  On Monday, the district security committee headed by Mr William Komakech, the Resident District Commissioner, resolved that all animals, especially cows in the areas prone to animal theft and raids,  must be kept in one community kraal.

Mr Komakech explained that the community kraal will be guarded by Uganda People’s Defence Forces soldiers and Local Defence Units (LDUs) personnel to prevent animals theft.

However, Mr Benson Oyat, a resident of Dalla Village in Okuti Parish, said most farmers do not spray or treat their animals while others leave their animals to roam freely.

“It is a time bomb for easy spread of the diseases. In most areas, cattle keepers practicing free-range system of management, exposes animals to disease infection if put in one Kraal,” Mr Oyat said.

He was also pessimistic that in the long-run, some animal keepers may steal animals from one another adding that the monitoring of animals giving birth would be difficult.
Mr Julius Ocan, another cattle keeper, said the security team should enhance tight deployment at known entry and exit points of the rustlers.”

“If security is beefed up at the border line, with vigilance among cattle keepers, it will be a step ahead in fighting the vice,” Mr Ocan said.

Since the beginning of the lockdown in late March, more than 102 animals have been stolen by the suspected rustlers. Only 79 have since been recovered while six suspected Karamojong cattle thieves have been gunned down.
Last year, the government kicked off the deployment of 1,500 LDU personnel at the border districts of Agago and Kitgum to tackle cattle rustling.

Security efforts

Brig Michael Kabango, the 5th Infantry Division Commander, confirmed in April that the army will focus on the three-tier security system, which emphasises provision of security while the farmers and locals in Agago and Kitgum districts remain vigilant and responsible for their cattle. He said the army would partner with LDUs to improve security.