Agriculture in 2013: Stock farmers losing millions to theft

On 22 February, Farmer’s Weekly reported that a farmers’ union in the Eastern Cape requested a government subsidy, as they could not afford to pay for a branding certificate to mark their animals.

- Advertisement -

The chairperson of the Eastern Cape Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (RPO), Dr Pieter Prinsloo, told farmers to decide whether it was more important to pay a fee for branding certificates or lose stock because they were not properly branded.

The once-off cost of obtaining a branding certificate was R120, the price of a forequarter of mutton. According to statistics endorsed by the national Ministry of Police, nine of the 19 stock theft hotspots in the country were in the Eastern Cape, namely Qumbu, Bityi, Tsolo, Maluti, Sulenkama, Afsondering, Mount Frere, Nqanduli and Mthata. The others were Utrecht, Bulver, Ezenkeni, Ladysmith, Bergville and Kwanansane in KwaZulu-Natal, Amersfoort and Dirkiesdorp in Mpumalanga, Harrismith in the Free State and Ventersdorp in North West.

On 1 March, Farmer’s Weekly reported that stock theft figures for the 2012 financial year showed a substantial increase from 2011. More than 69 000 head of cattle valued in excess of R552 million, almost 94 500 sheep worth R122,79 million and 40 078 Boer goats valued at R60,12 million were stolen in 2012. In addition, nearly 2 500 pigs (worth R2,98 million) and 110 ostriches (R330 000) were stolen.

- Advertisement -

In our issue of 9 August, advocate Jacques Swanepoel, vice-chairperson of the RPO’s national stock theft forum, said farmers were not receiving the kind of support from police and government that they once did. “I get daily calls about cases not being investigated, culprits being set free or dockets being lost,” he said.

Meanwhile in August, the Gauteng Stock Theft Forum said it believed that a syndicate was targeting stud animals in Gauteng. Willie Clack, chairperson of the forum, said the area had seen an unprecedented increase in the number of livestock theft cases since June. A breakthrough was reported on 18 October with the arrest of two suspects allegedly involved in stock theft worth R800 000.

Charles Marais and Martinus Groenewald subsequently appeared in the Rustenburg and Brits Magistrates’ Courts on charges of stock theft. Bail was denied in both cases, which were set to resume early in 2014. “They allegedly stole 139 cattle from various farms. Marais confessed and pointed out the crime scenes after his arrest.

“The truck used in the theft was traced and impounded,” said Colonel Sabata Mokgwabone, SAPS communications officer.