New strategy needed to tackle stock theft scourge

New strategy needed to tackle SA stock theft

All stakeholders in South Africa’s livestock production value chain must urgently put their heads together to re-strategise the country’s approach to tackling rampant stock theft.

This was the view of Aggrey Mahanjana, group managing director of the National Emergent Red Meat Producers’ Organisation, after learning that the number of stock theft cases reported to police for the 2017/2018 financial year had increased 7,2% from the previous financial year.

Crime statistics released by the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele for the 2017/2018 financial year indicated that more than 28 800 stock theft cases were reported, up 1 947 on the 26 902 for the previous financial year.

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The statistics also showed that stock theft had increased across all nine provinces compared with 2016/2017.

These increases were: 14,9% for the Northern Cape, 11,8% for Limpopo, 9,7% for the Free State, 9,3% for Mpumalanga, 8% for North West, 7,7% for the Western Cape, 6,1% for KwaZulu-Natal, 3,2% for the Eastern Cape, and 1,1% for Gauteng.

Total stock theft cases were: 6 322 in KwaZulu-Natal, 6 217 in the Eastern Cape, 4 032 in the Free State, 3 447 in North West, 3 135 in Mpumalanga, 2 187 in Limpopo, 1 558 in the Northern Cape, 998 in Gauteng, and 953 in the Western Cape.

The highest number of stock theft cases were reported in Mthatha (274 cases), Maluti (258 cases), Sulenkama (248 cases), and Qumbu (227 cases).

“Obviously we, as farmers, feel bad, distressed and disappointed that we and government are not able to win this battle [against stock theft]. This battle is not only bankrupting farmers, but is also a problem for the national economy. I think we [stakeholders] need to come up with another [stock theft control] strategy,” Mahanjana told Farmer’s Weekly.

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He explained that in addition to private sector stakeholders, this re-strategising needed to include the SAPS, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Willie Clack, chairperson of the National Livestock Theft Prevention Forum and second vice chairperson of the Red Meat Producers’ Organisation, pointed out that, based on single day in South Africa annual stock theft statistics from 2013/2014 to 2017/2018, an average of 251 sheep, 182 cattle and 117 goats were being stolen every.

“In cases where people farm with limited numbers of livestock, their livelihood is simply destroyed. Producers need to take control of their own destiny in relation to livestock theft, as one of the biggest myths in the criminal justice system is that the police are able to prevent crime,” Clack added.­