THIEVES have pounced on small-scale urban farmers on the outskirts of Bulawayo’s high-density suburbs by raiding their maize fields and stealing green mealie cobs.
Angry villagers in Robert Sinyoka, Methodist Village, Old Pumula, Pumula North and South yesterday showed a Southern Eye crew some of their maize fields that had been “harvested” by thieves under the cover of darkness.
Ndabezinhle Ndlovu of Pumula North, whose maize field is adjacent to the Bulawayo City Council water pump, said he risked failing to taste fruits of his labour after thieves raided his field last week.
“I almost collapsed when I found that about 75% of my maize stalks were cobless,” Ndlovu said pointing to the empty stalks.
“I called my neighbours to come and witness the incident and we tried to trace footprint and cart wheel marks from my field, but it was a futile attempt as they ended at the tarmac,” Ndlovu said.
Noma Ngwenya was not spared either as her field was left with almost nothing after the spate of thefts.
She said following the good rains, she had expected yields of more than six buckets from her field, but would now get very little.
“I find it disheartening that young people of today do not respect the sweat of an elderly person like me,” Ngwenya said.
“I had pinned my hopes on what I would harvest, but every morning my bright anticipations evaporate as more maize cobs are stolen every night,” Ngwenya revealed.
Sipho Dube from Robert Sinyoka warned that they would mete out instant justice to the thieves should they catch them and said he had now resolved to guarding his maize field at night.
“We can hardly contain our anger and we are prepared to face jail because instant punishment is imminent to those who will be caught,” Dube said.
The farmers suspect that ex-convicts released from Khami under a presidential pardon this month could be the culprits as thefts spiralled after their release.
However, others suspect that fellow residents were responsible for the thefts and selling the loot at the market in the city centre.