Although SAPS’ crime statistics for April to June show an 8% decrease in stock theft that’s not the whole picture, says the TLU SA. While there were decreases in stock theft in six provinces, cases increased in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, and Mpumalanga.

Moreover, bearing in mind that many farmers have lost trust in the police, they no longer report cases, out of sheer frustration with the lack of action. So says Mort Mortassagne, TLU SA safety committee chairperson. “Many of the police officers are part of the (theft) syndicates. Livestock theft is a large, organised industry with big money at stake. “Currently only about 20% of cases are reported and a meagre 4% of the cases are completed successfully.

“Chances of catching the thieves are already so slim and then the forensic work on stock theft is not up to standard.

“There is also a DNA sample database that is outstanding with about 400 000 samples.”

Mortassagne adds that in South Africa 2-5% of calves are stolen. “This is a very hot region for stock theft.”

Currently, one of the main concerns and challenges is the number of cases reported versus the number of stock thieves convicted by the courts. Ronnie Schilling, TAU SA regional manager: East & Natal, was recently part of TLU SA, Mpumalanga Agriculture and Afasa’s discussions with the SAPS provincial commissioner of Mpumalanga where livestock theft and other priority crimes were discussed. “It is well known that branding of livestock is compulsory in South Africa in terms of Act 6 of 2002. TLU SA takes note of the steps taken by the police and we are obviously grateful. We will support the police where we can,” said  Schilling.

Schilling also believes the number of livestock stolen per incident is of particular concern.

“Farmers will have to be prepared to put in place extra measures during the festive season to prevent thefts. Crucially, they must integrate into their local security structures. And then, should they report cases, they must keep in constant contact with the investigating officer until the case is taken to court.”

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