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Spike in livestock theft might have a negative impact on communal farmers

Rural communities are spread out far from police stations and there seems to be no strategy insight. At the recent release of the South African Police Service (SAPS) crime statistics, rural communities were at most vulnerable to crime, particularly stock theft.  

From April/June 2019 – 2020, there were 7 345 cases reported to the police than the previous year at 7 969. According to SAPS, stock theft declined by 6% and the month of May showed a high activity of livestock reported at police stations. 

According to SAPS; “cattle theft ranked the highest at 2600, followed by sheep (2094), goat (1178) and pigs (311).” 

Asked how Police Visibility in rural areas was lacking, SAPS said it had inadequate and unsuitable resources (human and logistical) to operate in rural areas because of poor roads and other infrastructure.

Eastern Cape province topped the list with 1920 cases reported as compared to the previous year at 1894. Most recorded cases of livestock theft occurred in Sulenkama (88), followed by Qumbu (50), Mthatha (73) and Mount Frere (67).

These figures came as no surprise as the Eastern Cape had the largest livestock herd in the country. For the period of 2016/2017, Statistics SA Victims of Crime Survey had already warned that the ‘province dominated in the percentages of households that experienced theft of livestock, poultry and other animals.’

Moreover, the pattern of crime seemed to target rural female headed households. The SAPS National Rural Safety Strategy (NRSS) had since 2011 not being effective in responding to the safety and security needs of rural communities.

While SAPS was inhibited from assisting rural communal farmers, commercial farmers had the means and access to prevent stock theft at their premises. This is according to a study conducted by UNISA’s Bureau of Marketing Research (BMR), on behalf of Agri SA, which stated in 2017 “about 40% of commercial farming units had installed security equipment at an average cost of R115 023.”

Kwazulu-Natal had the seconded highest cases of reported stock theft. Areas that dominantly held auctions like Impendle and Dannhauser were high on the list. North West and Free State also reported increasing cases of stock theft. 

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