THE increasing theft of livestock is adversely affecting communal farmers, the Masisi Livestock Forum said yesterday.
The forum says rustlers are smuggling the stolen animals to Zimbabwe and Mozambique, .
President of the forum Sunday Mpofu was commenting after smugglers stole 20 cattle at Masisi near Kruger National Park on Monday.
Mpofu said the smugglers forcibly took the cattle from their herders and threatened to kill them if they did not comply.
He said the animals had become an easy target for the smugglers who were now stealing every week.
Mpofu said the problem was caused by informal farmers who did not own farms.
The thefts, according to farmers, started seven years ago when the Limpopo River that borders Zimbabwe and South Africa was dry, making it easier for the smugglers to cross over with cattle.
Mpofu said more than 100 cattle were stolen and herded across to Mozambique and Zimbabwe every year.
It had been a bad period for communal farmers after they lost thousands of livestock due to drought and were now victims of rustlers, who were robbing them of their livelihood.
Mpofu said they wanted the government to assist them to recover their livestock.
Spokesperson for the department of safety and security in Limpopo, Joe Maila, said farmers should report the suspects to the police.