Outrage in KZN as alleged stock-thieves burn homes

Livestock owners in KwaZulu-Natal have reacted with outrage to news that alleged stock-thieves set fire to homes belonging to two community crime prevention association (CCPA) members.

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The KZN Department of Community Safety and Liaison (KZNDCSL) reported that the arson attacks might have been attempts to derail community crime-fighting initiatives in the Egodeni area of Vryheid. A KZNDCSL statement said that Andries Zungu and Philip Zulu were members of Isikebhe, a community crime-fighting association affiliated to the KZNCCPA, and had been active in measures to prevent stock-theft in the area.

These attacks were proof of how endemic crime was in South Africa, said Tim Ralfe, chairperson of the KZN Livestock Producers’ Forum (KZNLPF). “Criminals act with impunity, unafraid of the law and the consequences of their actions. “I feel that it is not the fault of the SAPS per se, but that of the justice system that allows bail and then takes forever to prosecute. The stock thief is then seen out of jail and carrying on with his actions.”

Stock-theft cost the province’s legitimate livestock industry many millions of rands annually, said the KZNLPF. It also indicated that while such vindictive attacks on livestock owners and crime prevention supporters were not yet commonplace in rural areas, this could change dramatically as livestock owners became more organised in protecting their property and animals.

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“It is unfortunate that by fighting stock-theft, crime and drug-traffickers we have become the enemies of criminals. It is also very important that our courts should treat the issue of stock-theft seriously by imposing harsh sentences,” said the KZNDCSL
statement, quoting KZNCCPA chairperson Tallman Zuma.

Zuma added that stock-thieves had to be sent a clear message that crime does not pay.