South of Madagascar, 2013-2014
In the southern regions of Madagascar, the population are facing the threat of zebu thefts on a daily basis, acts perpetrated by young people called dahalo or malaso.
This ancestral tradition, or rather this “regional sport”, as some label it, a way for some to display their virility, was once considered a minor crime by the authorities. But for more than a year now, zebu theft has become an affair of State, since the dahalo started operating in groups, equipped with assault weapons, military trained and not shy to resorting to killing to get to their ends.
In 2012, the Remenabila event marked the spirits. Remenabila is a dahalo having 200 to 300 wrongdoers at his command, perpetrators of thousands of zebus thefts, as well as of the murder of 12 military men in Iabohazo in June 2012.
This event triggered a military operation of a vast scale, the Tandroka operation, put up in order to bring back the law and order, and to have Remenabila captured – dead or alive. This operation will swiftly be condemned by the international observers, because of its ruthless methods and exaction cases perpetrated by the military against rural populations.
By the beginning of the year, the army stated, though with little conviction, that Remenabila had been eliminated during an anti-dahalo operation.
Zebu thefts have not been ceased for all that, and worse, according to the authorities, they even escalated. People are talking about an heir to Remenabila, called Rekamainty. Between March and May 2014, more than a hundred deaths have been recorded, and thousands of villagers have become refugees, following dahalo attacks in the southern parts of Madagascar.