In the first incident on 4 August, Newcastle police spotted two men herding 10 cattle. The herders were unable to provide police with a satisfactory explanation as to how they came to be in possession of the animals and were arrested on suspicion of stock theft. Further investigation revealed that the 10 cattle had been stolen in the Dannhauser area, approximately 30 kilometres from Newcastle. The animals had been branded, allowing the Newcastle Stock Theft Unit to track the rightful owner down and to return the animals.
In the incident on 5 August, a joint effort by the Ladysmith SAPS, the Ladysmith Crime Intelligence and Protection Services Unit, and the Ladysmith Stock Theft Unit saw three suspected stock thieves arrested, four allegedly stolen cattle recovered, and the impounding of the truck that was carrying the animals.
“Due to networking with members of the community and other organisations, police were able to determine that the vehicle was being loaded with stolen cattle,” said KZN SAPS spokesperson, Colonel Jay Naicker. “Police established that the driver of the truck had travelled all the way from KwaMakhutha, in the Durban area, to receive the stolen stock. The owner of the cattle, who was unaware of the theft, was thrilled when he was informed of their recovery by police.”
KZN SAPS Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni praised all the parties involved in the two successful stock theft prevention cases.
“Stock theft still remains a problem due to the market created by those who buy stolen livestock, and the inadequate measures to safeguard livestock,” said Ngobeni. “We encourage the public to support us in the fight against stock theft by firstly not buying stolen stock or meat that is sold under suspicious circumstances, and secondly by informing police of individuals within the community that are stealing livestock.”
Stock theft currently costs SA’s red meat industry approximately R400 million annually.