The Premier of the Eastern Cape, Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane, recently held a meeting with local livestock associations to develop a programme of action – to deal with the high number of livestock theft in the province.
Earlier during the year, the South African Police Service (SAPS) released its annual crime statistics which showed the province recording the largest number of livestock theft (1920 cases reported).
For 2019, the number was sitting at 1894 cases reported. Again, the same most recorded cases of livestock theft occurring top the list again; Sulenkama (88), Qumbu (50), Mthatha (73) and Mount Frere (67).
“These are painful experiences that people share every day when you come across this issue. We have got to work closely in a much more integrated way, activation of extension officers to get closer to our people is going to be helpful” said the premier.
To arrest the ongoing theft, the provincial government’s Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform said it was piloting the use of microchip embedded ear tag on seven livestock farms that benefited from its livestock and genetic improvement programme.
It was expected that once it became prudent, the technology will be extended to other livestock programmes and owners in the province.
The premier further admitted that not enough was done to ensure farmers branded their livestock in order for SAPS to easily trace when animals are stolen and impounded. It was a common feature for law enforcement agencies in the province to impound livestock for 14 days and thereafter when not collected or claimed by the owner it is sold.
“We will play our part as the province. We are already hitting the ground running, we are arresting people, confiscating stolen livestock that we find. This sensitive subject is now getting out of control. There is a lot to be done in the province like the branding of livestock. We still need to do a lot of social facilitation to mobilize our people to understand this.,” said Mabuyane.
Aggrey Mahanjana, Managing Director of the National Emergent Red Meat Producers’ Organization (NERPO) welcomed the premier’s call and said his organisation was ready to assist wherever possible especially with the establishment of a solid Provincial Stock Theft Unit.
Premier Mabuyane appointed MEC Tikana Gxothiwe to lead the team of stakeholders working to fight stock theft in the province with MEC Meth, Officials from both departments, the Office of the Premier, South African Police Service, NERPO forming part of the team.
“The Office of the Premier will play its part through the Inter-Governmental Relations Framework to involve other spheres of government into this matter. We will lift the matter up and flag it so that everyone pays attention to it so that we can stop it once and for all” added the premier.