Police catch 28 suspected stock thieves in seven days

An intensive seven day joint operation by KwaZulu-Natal SAPS Stock Theft Units resulted in the recovery of stolen livestock, collectively valued at an estimated R900 000.

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A total of 28 suspects were arrested during the operation from 15 to 21 April 2013, on charges related to stock theft and for failing to mark their livestock as required by the Stock Theft Act of 1959. KZN SAPS spokesperson, Captain Thulani Zwane, said that 115 cattle, 27 goats and 22 sheep were recovered. The operation targeted various suspected stock theft hot-spots in the province, and related efforts included roadblocks, tracing wanted stock theft suspects, and stop-and-search duties.

KZN’s Department of Community Safety and Liaison (DCSL) said that it believed that a number of the suspects were masterminds behind a number of stock theft cases in the province. “This serious breakthrough comes in the wake of many incidents of stock theft in the province, and in some instances, [these incidents have] caused serious tensions in communities like in Pomeroy, Msinga and Muden,” said KZN DCSL spokesperson, Kwanele Ncala.

Willies Mchunu, the department’s MEC, added that the recovered livestock and arrests indicated that government was serious about tackling stock theft. “Livestock is the only source of living for rural and farming communities. Therefore, anyone stealing from them is undermining government efforts towards fighting poverty,” Mchunu said.

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The Red Meat Industry Forum previously reported that stock theft cost the South African economy more than R430 million during the 2011/2012 financial year. Statistics revealed by the Red Meat Producers’ Organisation revealed that during the same period 69 011 cattle (32 095 recovered), 94 450 sheep (23 569 recovered), and 40 078 goats (11 802 recovered) were reported stolen.

“The KwaZulu-Natal police would like to send a strong message to livestock owners that those who fail to comply with the law by failing to brand mark their livestock will be charged,” said Zwane. “We will continue with our operations enforcing the Stock Theft Act in terms of branding livestock and tracing wanted suspects.”