Stock theft: economic sabotage of the agricultural sector

The shortcomings currently being detected at Livestock Theft Units (FSU) in the South African Police Service (SAPS) by farming communities in the Free State, are contributing to what can almost be regarded as economic sabotage of the agricultural sector. This is the opinion of Free State Agriculture (FSA) and the Red Meat Producers Organization (RPO).

Jakkals le Roux, chairman of FSA’s Rural Safety Committee, has expressed his concern that stock theft is not considered a priority by the police. “For farmers, this situation leads to economic ruin which seriously undermines the agricultural sector. It’s not to mention the impact it has on emerging and subsistence farmers”, says Le Roux.

According to le Roux and Isabel Kruger, chairman of the Livestock Theft Prevention Forum in the Free State, the astronomical shortages of resources are increasing, with no actual intervention from police top structure. “Due to the shortages, crime scenes are not effectively investigated and detectives sometimes show up days after a case has been reported. This then contributes to the fact that many of these stock theft incidents are not reported.”

From cases that have been reported, there are farming communities that report losses of up to R10 million per year. Highly plagued areas of the Free State including Brandfort, Ladybrand, Heilbron, and Fouriesburg – are currently under great pressure due to increases in stock theft. Border towns located along the RSA / Lesotho border in particular are suffering from a large increase in the type of property-related crime, says Dr Jane Buys, Safety Risk Analyst at FSA.

“Stock theft is an organized crime that is increasingly run by crime syndicates”, says Buys. “To stop these syndicates, the involvement of other role players in the SAPS, such as the Hawks, Organized Crime Unit and Crime Intelligence, is needed.”

Farmers try to protect their property and especially livestock as much as possible. FSA and the RPO are of the opinion that the Police must fulfil their legal obligation in order to make the necessary manpower, vehicles and equipment available to ensure the survival of the agricultural sector in the Free State. “The intervention of the government and the Minister of Police has become critical in addressing the shortcomings.”

Veediefstal: ekonomiese sabotasie van die landbousektor

Die tekortkominge wat tans by Veediefstal Eenhede (VDE) in die Suid-Afrikaanse Polisie Diens (SAPD) deur boerderygemeenskappe in die Vrystaat bespeur word, is bydraend tot wat bykans as ekonomiese sabotasie van die landbousektor beskou kan word. Dit is die mening van Vrystaat Landbou (VL) en die Rooivleis Produsente Organisasie (RPO).

Jakkals le Roux, voorsitter van VL se Landelike Veiligheidskomitee, is bekommerd dat  veediefstal op die oog af nie as ʼn prioriteit deur die polisie geag word nie. “Vir boere lei hierdie situasie tot ekonomiese ondergang wat die landbousektor ernstig ondermyn. Dit is om nie eens van die impak wat dit op opkomende en bestaansboere het, te praat nie”, sê Le Roux.

Volgens le Roux en Isabel Kruger, voorsitter van die Veediefstal Voorkomings Forum (VVF) in die Vrystaat, neem die astronomiese tekorte aan hulpbronne toe, met geen daadwerklike intervensie vanaf polisie topstruktuur nie. “Weens die tekorte, word misdaadtonele nie effektief ondersoek nie en speurders daag soms dae na ʼn saak gerapporteer is eers op. Dit dra dan daartoe by dat baie van hierdie veediefstal-insidente nie aangemeld word nie.”

Uit sake wat wel gerapporteer is, is daar boerderygemeenskappe wat verliese van tot R10 miljoen per jaar rapporteer. Hoë geteisterde gebiede van die Vrystaat  insluitend Brandfort, Ladybrand, Heilbron, en Fouriesburg – ondervind tans groot druk weens toenames in veediefstal. Veral grensdorpe geleë langs die RSA/Lesothogrens, gaan gebuk onder ʼn groot toename in die soort eiendoms verwante misdaad, sê Dr Jane Buys, Veiligheids Risiko Analis van VL.

“Veediefstal is ʼn georganiseerde misdaad wat toenemend deur misdaadsindikate bedryf word”, meen Dr Buys. “Om hierdie sindikate te keer, word die betrokkenheid van ander rolspelers in die SAPD, soos die Valke, Georganiseerde Misdaad Eenheid en Misdaad Intelligensie, benodig.”

Boere poog om sover moontlik hul eiendom en veral vee te beskerm. VL en die RPO meen dat die Polisie hul regsverpligting moet nakom ten einde die nodige mannekrag, voertuie en toerusting beskikbaar te stel om die voortbestaan van die landbousektor in die Vrystaat te verseker. “Die intervensie van die regering en die Minister van Polisie het kritiek geword om die tekorte aan te spreek”, sê Buys.