Illegal Cold Rooms Aid Stock Theft


  • Cold rooms in homes used to store stolen cattle carcasses
  • This has led to a rise in the illicit trade of meat
  • In one case, 22 carcasses were confiscated
  • Owner claimed carcasses belonged to relatives but failed to give proof

Police in Maun have raised concerns over the proliferation of illegal coldrooms in homes which are used to store stolen cattle carcasses to escape the law. The cold rooms have led to a rise in the illicit trade of meat, where the owners, cattle thieves and some butchery owners are in cahoots.

This surfaced during the Umbrella Farmers Committee consultative meeting with livestock buyers who included owners and representatives of local abattoirs, butcheries, feedlots as well as millers and meat outlet operators.

The meeting’s agenda was to address and discuss how best the concerned parties could work together to curb stock theft in Maun.

Addressing the meeting, District No5 Deputy Officer Commanding,Superintendent Molefhe Molefhe revealed that there are some small businesses and butchery owners who buy stolen meat but due to lack of space in their licensed cold rooms and also to escape the mandatory inspections, they then opt to pay home cold room owners to store the rest of the meat for them.

According to Molefhe, backyard cold rooms found in homes are illegal and one can be charged for the illegal possession of the meat they have stored. Molefhe explained that when one is found with a cold room in their yard, they could be slapped with a minimum fine of P2000.

He revealed that since the beginning of the year they have already registered two cases in Maun where illegal cold rooms were found in homes. “There is one case where 22 carcasses were found in a home cold room and the owner could not give any proof of purchase,” Molefhe revealed.

Molefhe added that when confronted, the cold room owner mentioned that the carcasses belonged to relatives whom he claimed were having funerals and weddings. The police boss said the suspect could not however take the police to the said relatives and he was subsequently charged for the offence.

For her part, the Senior Environmental Health Officer North West District Council Winani Kelaotswe explained that cattle slaughter can only be done at designated and licensed abattoirs where a thorough inspection is done to check if the meat is safe for consumption.

She concurred that from their realisation, some small businesses dealing in meat aid stock theft.  She added that the meat sold there is never inspected as would have been stolen and kept in illegal cold rooms.

She warned that the situation causes diseases and infections from the consumption of contaminated meat. Kelaotswe has since encouraged farmers and butchery owners to slaughter their livestock at licensed abattoirs not in the bushes and selling contaminated meat.

Meanwhile, NWDC Chief Finance and Development Planning Officer, Charity Phuthego advised farmers to keep checking the ‘Matimela’ kraals for stray cattle. Phuthego revealed that currently they have 11 stray cows in the ‘Matimela’ kraal in Maun, 10 of which were brought in by the police after arresting a man who was found in possession of them.

Phuthego mentioned that they have a challenge dealing with stray cattle in Maun as the many seen roaming the village cannot be considered stray since they would be going to the many water sources around, and therefore cannot be declared as ‘Matimela.’


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