Farmers should not express their anger about protracted stock theft cases on social media, as this could set their cases back years, and put further strain on their wallets and the legal system.
This warning came from Isabel Kruger, head of the Free State Red Meat Producers’ Organisation’s Stock Theft Forum.
“It takes time to handle all the enquiries. Many farmers become impatient and [give vent to their feelings] on social media, as they feel that either the police or the state prosecutor are delaying the case.
“For instance, when farmers suggest that the prosecutor isn’t doing his or her job properly, the [prosecutor] often withdraws from the case, setting the whole [thing] back years in many cases.”
Kruger warned that farmers were shooting themselves in the foot by doing so, as it weakened their own cases.
“Farmers need to remember that defendants’ lawyers also have access to their social [media] comments. This can easily be used to discredit you as a witness in your own case.”
Barkly West-based lawyer Kallie du Bruyn, of CM du Bruyn & Partners, said farmers needed to realise that there were “many ways to skin a cat”.
“It’s important to note that the case needs to be investigated thoroughly and that real evidence, such as DNA samples [taken] at the scene of the crime, is needed.
“If a farmer suspects foul play, there’s a better place to complain than on social media. Rather complain to a higher authority; that way you’ll probably also get a better reaction than you would on social media.”
Police officers needed to answer to the inspectors, who were their superiors.
“[Some] police [officers] [may be] involved with stock theft. Therefore, farmers need to complain about officials who aren’t doing their jobs. Don’t simply report an officer to the station commander; go to that particular station’s inspector instead.
“If an officer doesn’t want to supply the information about their superior [officer] to you, you can also complain about that.”
Du Bruyn said prosecutors could also be reported to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of South Africa.
“If a case is taken off the roll, you can also report this to the NPA. Farmers should insist that the issue be dealt with.”