Organised agriculture, as well as the farming community of the Free State, are once again calling out the South African Police Service (SAPS) for giving low priority to police involvement in stock theft and corruption.
Farmers are saying that stock theft is not really a priority to police minister Bheki Cele and his department.
Jakkals le Roux, chairman of the Free State Agriculture (FSA) rural safety committee, says he has concerns about the police task force which was formed after the murder of farmer Brendin Horner.
Feedback from the task team to farming communities takes place on a need-to-know basis, and Le Roux says he is extremely concerned with their capabilities.
“What is still of concern to farming communities in the area is the lack of capacity within the livestock theft unit that serves the area,” Le Roux says.
The task team consists of various divisions of the SAPS and focuses mainly on police involvement and corruption in the organised theft of livestock.
According to a media release by FSA, they have repeatedly requested that stock theft units in the province be empowered.
FSA feels their pleas to equip units with sufficient manpower, vehicles, and equipment have gone unheeded. This is especially adjacent to South Africa’s border with Lesotho, as they cover such a large service area.
The matter is reported to have been raised with the office of the MEC for police, roads and transport, Sam Mashinini, the office of the provincial commissioner of SAPS, as well as Agri SA and the Livestock Theft Prevention Forum.
Le Roux claims that despite their many efforts there have been no moves at all to assist the livestock theft unit and farming communities in this regard.
“The only conclusion we can therefore draw is that stock theft is not really a priority for the police and the minister and that there is also no real will to address it,” Le Roux states.
Lack of implementation by police
Meanwhile, Tommie Esterhuyse, vice-president of FSA, says that the organisation’s memorandum, signed with Mashinini on 13 October 2020, must receive further attention.
The memorandum calls for police involvement and corruption to be actively addressed by the police. This was meant to be done through task forces in the province to investigate especially farm attacks and the organised theft of livestock.
According to FSA only one task force has been established – in the Bethlehem area – over the past six months.
At the time, information from 14 farming communities had already been received.
As far as FSA knows no other task teams have been set up in the Free State where farming communities could pass on their information to the police or the Hawks.
The organisation is making an urgent request to Mashinini to establish such a working method that can be made available to farming communities. Such actions will indicate that police corruption in all areas of the Free State is taken seriously, FSA states.