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16 additional private investigators to combat livestock theft

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Free State Agriculture, in collaboration with the private security company LGV, has trained 16 additional Psira registered private investigators on livestock theft over the past 2 days. This brings the total number of investigators to 21.

According to Peet Swanepoel, provincial coordinator for the PSIRA private investigators, the training follows the request of several Free State farming communities where livestock theft is rampant. 

The initiative initially kicked off on 1 July 2023 in the Fezile Dabe district when Free State Agriculture itself funded R1 million, because cases of livestock theft in the Free State had reached unacceptable levels. “Shortage of manpower, vehicles and equipment at Livestock Theft Units (VDE) of the SAPS is a major source of concern and it became clear that a community initiative was needed to help turn things around”, says Swanepoel. Successes achieved in collaboration with the police’s Rural Safety coordinators as well as Livestock Theft Units (VDE) in certain high crime areas have already shown that the initiative must be expanded.

The farming communities of Steynsrus, Bultfontein, Jacobsdal, Marquard, Reddersburg and Bloemfontein have identified persons to be trained as private investigators, in order to empower and train them to effectively address this type of crime. The communities themselves also take responsibility for all operational expenses regarding the investigators. Various funding models were put forward.

Isabel Kruger, livestock theft safety representative of FSA believes that the great need at ground level indicates that commercial farmers are extremely targeted by criminal groups and syndicates that steal livestock. The situation has become so detrimental that many farmers had to give up their farming practices or get rid of certain types of animals. The coordination of the type of crime and centralization of all information is of crucial importance in order to achieve success.