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KZN Stock Theft stats ‘do not reflect reality on the ground’

The Mercury

4 Aug 2020

SAKHISENI NXUMALO sakhiseni.nxumalo@inl.co.za

THE National Stock Theft Prevention Forum says more needs to be done to deal with stock theft.

This comes after the 2019/2020 crime statistics report released last week by Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, showed a slight decrease in stock theft of 4.2%.

The forum’s chairperson, Willie Clack, said the hot spots for stock theft had remained the same for several years.

“The hot spots are always the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. This means that the police should be investing more of their resources in these provinces to curb the crime,” he said.

According to Clack, farmers were losing more than R1.4 billion a year because of stock theft.

According to the 2019/2020 statistics, KZN saw a marginal 2% decrease in stock theft with 6 380 cases, 128 less than the previous year’s report.

Clack said that during the lockdown there had been a decrease in stock theft in the country, especially during level 5. Since the country moved to level 4, however, there had been an increase in incidents, he said.

Clack urged farmers to ensure their animals were marked and to report cases of stock theft.

“We currently have a non-reporting rate of 80% nationally. If you don’t report stock theft, it’s not going to be investigated,” he said.

KZN Agriculture Union (Kwanalu) chief executive Sandy la Marque said that while the statistics might show a decrease, the sector believed stock theft had increased. La Marque said many smaller-scale farmers were very discouraged by the rampant stock theft. Many did not see the value of reporting theft cases as the recovery rate was low and there was little recourse against stock thieves.

La Marque said while they understood that the SAPS was under pressure, more needed to be done about the high rate of stock theft in KZN.

“For some time we have seen many KZN stations featuring in the top 10 highest-recording stock theft stations,” she said.

She added that the judicial system needed to hand down sentences that discouraged stock thieves.

“It is a major concern to frequently see stock thieves caught with the stolen livestock in hand only to be released and return to stealing again and again.

“More resources are required, including well-trained manpower and vehicles, and magistrates who are specialists in dealing with stock theft should be appointed to cases,” added La Marque.

KZN African Farmers’ Association of South Africa deputy secretary Mbongeni Sikhakhane said the figures released by the minister were not a true reflection of what was happening on the ground.

He said stock theft was getting worse every day, especially in Pietermaritzburg, Ladysmith and northern KZN. “Stock is being stolen almost every day and farmers don’t report it.”

Sikhakhane said many police stations did not have the resources to deal with this. “The police need to have horses in hot spot areas that don’t have roads,” he said.