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Private Livestock Theft Investigators achieve great success

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• 241 sheep and 98 cattle worth R1.5 million were recovered

• 14 arrests in 6 livestock theft cases were carried out

• 4 vehicles and 1 trailer seized

These are three of the many successes that Free State Agriculture (FSA) and LGV’s PSIRA registered Private Stock Theft Investigators initiative achieved in the first 4 months.

According to Jakkals le Roux, chairman of Free State Agriculture’s Rural Safety committee, the Private Livestock Theft Investigators initiative kicked off on 1 July 2023. “The initiative was started because cases of livestock theft had reached unacceptable levels. It became clear that a community initiative was going to be needed to help turn things around”.

The Private Livestock Theft Investigators are made up of PSIRA registered private investigators who focus on livestock theft. They currently operate under the leadership of Free State Agriculture (FSA) and the private security company LGV in the Fezile Dabe district. It is an area of about 20,668 km² stretching from Steynsrus to Sasolburg and from Viljoenskroon to Frankfort.

According to le Roux, a lot of information has been gathered in the past three months regarding the movement and relocation of suspected stolen livestock and observation services have been carried out on a regular and continuous basis, especially in the cross-border area with Gauteng. Le Roux further mentions that the expansion of the private investigators is also currently underway in a variety of towns, especially those near or along the RSA/Lesotho border.

Furthermore, Le Roux also confirms that, in collaboration with the detectives, 24 inquiry dossiers and 26 actual dossiers/cases are currently being investigated which are related to the activities of certain groups and syndicates. “Free State Agriculture has also entered into a cooperation agreement with the institution National Crime Assist (NCA) to achieve greater cooperation to address livestock theft”.

Dr. Jane Buys, Safety risk analyst of FSA, emphasized that the investigators are working together with the SAPS. Dr Buys added that the initiative is funded by FSA and community members. “The biggest expenses incurred are the travel costs and daily fees of investigators. This means that this initiative can be expanded relatively easily as public support for the initiative increases”.