Livestock theft has decreased in all provinces between 2019 and 2021. This, for the first time since 2003 when the police first released its national crime statistics for South Africa.
These statistics were released by police minister Bheki Cele when he presented the national crime statistics for South Africa, including the livestock theft crime statistics last month.
Currently, there is a national decrease of 12,78% in the number of livestock theft cases reported. According to the National Stock Theft Prevention Forum they are astounded that for the first time since data was collected, the number of cases reported decreased in all provinces in South Africa for 2019/20 to 2020/21.
The forum indicated that the four provinces with the largest decreases are Northwest (31,76 %), the Free State (23,39%), Limpopo (21,26%) and Mpumalanga (20,95%).
“The decreases in view of the percentages in the other five provinces are not as significant. It remains a challenge to work with the percentages as it creates false impressions regarding the numbers involved. Therefore, the inclusion of the drop in the number of cases as per figure 2 is enlightening.”
“It is obvious from figure 2 that the decrease in the Western Cape, the Northern Cape and Gauteng is negligible in the bigger picture as it only comprises 3,29% of the total decline.”
Series of variables leads to drop in cases
According to the forum the provinces with a major impact on the decreases are the Free State and the Eastern Cape, which contributed 44%.
“These decreases can be attributed to a series of variables, such as Covid-19, the use of social media platforms (WhatsApp groups), CCTV technology, improved crime prevention strategies, media exposure and/or the constant decrease in the reporting of livestock theft.”
The forum revealed that irrespective of the number of cases reported, it is imperative to also include the number of livestock stolen per province, as indicated in Table 1 below.
“The information in table 1 indicates that the number of cases is not always a good barometer as in the Eastern Cape the number of species stolen has increased. Given the number of stolen livestock in the Eastern Cape, it remains a challenge to address livestock theft in the province.”
“With six of the ten hotspots being in the Eastern Cape, one should not really be so awestruck. The hotspots in the country are indicated in table 2.”
“The economic impact of livestock theft is always of great importance, as can be seen in Table 3.”
“The decrease in the economic impact on livestock producers is 6% compared to the number of cases that decreased by 12,78%.”
The Forum indicated that although claims are made that the decrease can be attributed to Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown regulations, the quarterly statistics of the number of cases reported and number of livestock stolen, indicate that there has been a continuous decrease since level 5 to the current level 1. The number of cases per quarter is as per the information in Table 4.
“The statistics of the previous years, although not indicated in table 4, correlate with the tendency seen in table 4. The information places the presumption made about increases over the Christmas and Easter periods in jeopardy.”
The role of day and night lengths
From the onset it is clear that there is a correlation with day and night lengths and the number of livestock theft cases. This means that the longer the nights in winter, the more livestock theft takes place.
“In winter, patrols by stock theft information centres (STICs) and farm watches are less frequent. The latter is an assumption because no formal information about patrols is available. This tendency may also be due to religious reasons.”