Dordrecht’s battle against savage stock thieves

Beyers Van Rooyen of Naauwpoort farm in Dordrecht is one of many farmers in the area whose livestock is regularly raided by stock thieves.

The latest incident saw one of his prized Friesland cross Sussex cows butchered in the early hours of the morning. “financial loss is over R6 000, which does not include the potential breeding capacity of the cow over the next few years. She was in calf when she was butchered. Every two months I lose a cow to these cruel thieves,” Van Rooyen told Farmer’s Weekly.

“The thieves come at night, catch a cow, tie her to a corner fencing pole and then use a sharp knife to severe the spinal cord just behind the neck. In this case they hamstrung the cow then used an axe on the base of her skull to kill her. They then dissect the animal and take the meat to the local township for sale. I suffer this kind of loss continually.” Van Rooyen farmed with Merinos years ago but suffered enormous losses due to theft. He switched to cattle when all his sheep were eventually stolen.

Farmers’ confidence in the police He is, however, sure things will turn out differently this time. “We farmers in Dordrecht have the full support of our local police and I am confident that Inspector Michael Makhambi, our local stock theft officer, will apprehend these thieves.” Inspector Makhambi, assisted by Sergeant Ndzameko Bonga, was at the crime scene. “I am sure this is not a crime of hunger, but a crime of mischief. I will visit my prime suspects and use my informer network to catch the thief,” Makhambi assured Farmer’s Weekly. “I started working in this area in 2000. Since May this year stock theft has been worse than I have ever known.

This month I visited eight scenes of stock theft in my area and I currently have 26 cases under investigation.” Makhambi is training two men, Sergeant Ndzameko Bonga and Rudi Strydom, to help him. “We work as a team involving a network of informers. I also know the community, and try to remain informed about what is happening in the community. The six successful convictions that we have had this year came through my network of informers. My greatest job satisfaction is solving a crime and obtaining a conviction.” Makhambi is highly respected by the Dordrecht farmers.

“Last week I had two of my prime Merino sheep slaughtered and stolen,” farmer Allan Bradfield told Farmer’s Weekly. “When I called Makhambi on his cellphone, he was on the scene immediately. I can phone him day or night and he will respond. He has made a huge difference to our stock theft situation. Last year I apprehended two thieves who were responsible for stealing Telkom solar panels. Again he was on the scene immediately and executed the necessary arrest. He is an asset to our community and was responsible for the reduction in stock theft that I experienced in the past.” Another farmer, Gerard Schmidt, commented that Makhambi had a great knowledge of the local situation. “He is efficient and always follows up on crimes.

We are satisfied with his police work as he usually solves stock crimes.” Lenient sentences But according to Van Rooyen, good police work will only win half the battle against stock thieves. He sees the judicial system as the biggest problem. “The current magistrate is so lenient that the criminals laugh behind our backs. Fourteen people were involved in one of the recent stock losses I suffered. Six eventually ended up behind bars, but in a few months they will be released again, exacerbating the problem.”