The arrest of five members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the Free State on charges of stock theft, perjury and defeating the ends of justice was underpinned by the SAPS’s inertia to prevent crime and its propensity to rather follow up on crimes after they had already occurred. This was according to Francois Strydom, chairperson of Agbiz.
The SAPS members, as well as two livestock speculators, were arrested by the Hawks in Bloemfontein and Ladybrand earlier this week. The suspects appeared in court on charges of stock theft, defeating the ends of justice and perjury on 15 July, but the case was postponed. The accused remain in custody. The livestock speculators also faced charges for the possession of unlicensed firearms.
The arrest was a result of information presented to Minister of Police Bheki Cele during a protest march in Senekal after the murder of farmer Brendin Horner, who was killed in an alleged case of stock theft on a farm in Paul Roux.
“This is but one of many signs that the SAPS has, over the years, elected to ignore the value of crime intelligence networks. Should such networks have been in place, the tragic death of a young farmer in an alleged incident of stock theft could most likely have been prevented. The breakdown of crime intelligence in South Africa because of poor management and a lack of funding can and has led to the loss of human lives and severe financial damage,” Strydom added.
According to Francois Wilken, president of Free State Agriculture (FSA), the investigation and subsequent arrests were largely because of information obtained from farming communities that was made available to the Hawks during a meeting between the Red Meat Producers’ Organisation, the Free State Stock Theft Forum, FSA, local farming communities and the SAPS.