Black farmers more vulnerable to theft

A lack of resources has made black farmers more vulnerable to stock theft, according to the South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR).

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The IRR’s 2013 South Africa Survey notes that SA households experienced 178 000 cases of stock theft in 2011. Of these, black households accounted for 92%, coloured and Indian households for 1%, and white households for 7%.

Kerwin Lebone of the IRR’s research department explained that new black farmers grapple with many challenges, such as keen local and global competition and market access. “It is conceivable that they focus their resources on issues other than security. For this reason, their livestock might be easier targets for thieves.

“Established commercial farmers have access to advanced security measures such as fences and electronic tags for their livestock, which makes them relatively harder to steal.”

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According to the IRR there are 48 000 mostly white commercial farmers and 221 000 black emerging farmers in the country. Emerging farmers are defined as those who benefit from government programmes designed to promote the emergence of a black farming class.

Commercial farmers keep almost three times as much livestock – a combined number of 33 million cattle, goats, and sheep – as emerging farmers, who keep 13 million such animals.

Lebone said black households involved in agriculture were also affected in other areas. “Some 83% of households that experienced theft of crops in the same year were black.”