According to a statement by KZN SAPS spokesperson, Captain Thulani Zwane, the operation was jointly conducted by the Glencoe Stock Theft Unit, the Ladysmith, Nqutu, Newcastle, Greytown, Wasbank, Nhlanhleni and Dannhauser Visible Policing Units, and the Glencoe K9 Unit.
The operation netted 41 suspects between 22 June and 4 July. They were variously charged with stock theft, failure to mark livestock in terms of the Animal Identification Act of 2002, and in one case, possession of a bag of dagga.
“The [operation] members recovered a total of 29 suspected stolen cattle, four sheep, 46 goats and one bag of dagga,” said Zwane.
The statement quoted KZN SAPS Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Mmamonnye Ngobeni, as saying that while she was pleased with the arrests and with the ongoing partnership between provincial police and rural livestock owners in apprehending stock theft suspects, she remained concerned about the failure of many livestock owners to officially mark their animals.
“We urge them to properly brand their livestock for speedy identification purposes and also advise them to take necessary precautions to safeguard their livestock whilst grazing,” Ngobeni said. The KZN SAPS boss’s sentiments were echoed by the KZN Livestock Association (KZNLA) and Kwanalu.
“Livestock owners must register for brands and urgently put them on their animals,” said KZNLA’s Chairperson, Bongani Mhlophe . “Police can’t track down the stolen animals’ rightful owners if they are not branded. We are working closely with the KZN Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to promote livestock marking in rural areas.”
Koos Marais, of Kwanalu’s Security Desk, said that he was “delighted” with the news of the arrests. However, he felt that it was unfair that already overworked and under-resourced SAPS Stock Theft Units had to work towards recovering unbranded or unsupervised livestock at the expense of being freed up to track down the stolen livestock of owners who were adhering to the law.
“Cases of stock theft where animals are not officially marked won’t even stand in court,” said Marais.