Farmers say stock theft on the rise

Cattle-moving
Cattle-moving

Despite stock theft having fallen by 1% across the country, the farming community believes the crime has risen on the ground.

The African Farmers Association of SA (Afasa) believes that the national crime statistics released on Friday portrayed stock theft as having fallen due to a large number of farmers not reporting the cases.

The statistics showed that there were 24715 cases of stock theft reported in the 2015/16 financial year, down from 24965 in 2014/15.

However, in six of the country's nine provinces stock theft increased, with Limpopo and Mpumalanga leading the pack with increases of 5.4% and 6.6%, respectively.

Trailing behind were Gauteng, Northern Cape, Western Cape and North West.

Afasa secretary-general Aggrey Mahanjana said stock theft could decrease substantially if the police classified it as a serious crime.

"If you look at the statistics year after year they show that the police are on top of stock theft. But, at the grassroots, stock theft is increasing.

"Police say the number of cases reported is going down but farmers say the conviction rate is very low and there is no point in reporting the crime.

"As farmers on the ground we are still experiencing a lot of cases of stock theft and this is causing serious economic losses for our businesses," Mahanjana said.

"Stock theft is like illegal hunting with dogs, vandalism of farm infrastructure, and poaching, and the police need to beef up their manpower to tackle the crime.

"You cannot plan proper strategies to fight crime if we do not have the correct statistics. Members of the public are even accusing some of the police officers of being members of syndicates that are engaged in stock theft," he said.

"Regular border and farm patrols need to be improved so that thieves can know that a police van can appear at any time. There should be a good communication network between farmers," Mahanjana said.

sibanyonim@sowetan.co.za

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