A tip-off by the community of De Aar in the Northern Cape has led to the arrest of one suspect accused of stock theft. However, concerns remain high over the absence of police visibility in farming and rural communities.
A 38-year-old man, who is still to appear in the Richmond Magistrate Court, has been arrested for allegedly stealing and selling livestock valued at approximately R87 000. It is also believed that he stole R90 000 in cash after breaking into a farmer’s house.
The De Aar Stock Theft and Endangered Species Unit members traced and arrested the suspect who was on the run from the police in Somerset East in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday, 11 July 2023.
Speaking to Food For Mzansi, sergeant Timothy Sam said the suspect was an employee at a farm near Richmond in the Northern Cape and was entrusted with the responsibility of looking after the farmer’s livestock.
Leads directed the investigating team to a farm near Gqeberha, however, the suspect was ultimately arrested in Somerset East.
Stock theft is still a problem
The police victory, although widely celebrated by farmers, has also put a spotlight on the scourge of stock theft in other parts of the province.
According to Kedibonye Kaweng, there are always reports of stock theft incidents in and around her area.
“Almost every day we get to hear cases of animals being slaughtered and the carcasses being taken. So it is still rife.”
Kaweng considers herself lucky that she herself has not had to deal with stock theft.
All types of farmers affected
“Within my farm, specifically, I have not experienced stock theft. My farm is surrounded by commercial farmers who have intensified their farm security with cameras,” she said.
Kaweng added that small-scale and communal farmers are mostly affected but the perpetrators pounce on commercial properties as well.
According to Sam, concerns remain high over stock theft numbers. “In Kimberley it isn’t so bad. But there are areas around the Pixley ka Seme district, the Namaqua district as well as the Upington area where we’ve got a considerable amount of stock theft cases.”
Community collaboration is key
Sam told Food For Mzansi that thanks to the police and community assistance, they have made strides in arrests.
“I can attest that the farming community is of great assistance in terms of really curbing stock theft.
“They immediately inform us and our systems are in place in terms of cameras, and so on. So that relationship with the farming community is there,” Sam said.
Kaweng worries that a lack of police presence in certain areas is encouraging perpetrators.
“There isn’t a strong police presence within my area. Most of the farmers will open cases but every time the cases are being opened they [disappear] in the mist. It seems like we are not winning against stock theft crimes at all,” she said.
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