Reported incidents of stock theft in Gauteng have steadily increased over the past three years, with 26 555 animals stolen, 2807 incidents reported, R24.3 million worth of livestock stolen and only 61 convictions to date.
This equates to 8124 cattle, 9282 sheep, 822 pigs, 8115 goats and 212 horses/donkeys that have been stolen in various farming communities across the province, amounting to 26 555 animals in total.
This was revealed in a response to my question on stock theft and convictions by Gauteng Community Safety MEC, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane and the Gauteng Office of the Provincial SAPS Commissioner.
However, these figures only represent reported cases, making the true losses much higher and the involvement of sophisticated stock-theft syndicates probable.
The majority of the species of animals stolen have increased in percentage year on year. 40.1% more Sheep have been stolen in the 2016/17 financial year (FY) than in the 2015/16 FY.
The number of cattle thefts rose from 2699 in 2014/15 to 3083 thefts in the 2016/17 FY, an increase of 14.2%.
In the 2014/15 FY 155 Pigs (R310 000) were stolen, this figure more than doubled in the 2016/17 FY to 339 Pigs totalling an unbelievable R6.5 million worth of swine stock.
It is disheartening that a mere 61 criminals have been successfully convicted out of 534 suspects arrested over the same period.
Those convicted have faced varying charges and received prison time from as little as 1 month imprisonment or an R800 fine up to 10 to 15 years imprisonment and an R8000 fine.
The DA has long held that proactive steps can and must be taken to allow our farmers to farm profitably and create economic opportunities within communities:
• SAPS must declare rural crime a priority, and keep separate and accurate statistics so that the success or failure of interventions can be measured;
• Reinstate organised and suitably trained SAPS Rural Safety Units;
• The reservist programme in farm areas must be properly implemented with concerted effort to recruit and train farmers, farm workers and farm dwellers; and
• Increased access to health, social support, and education must be ensured for farmworkers and dwellers. This is a fundamental human rights issue and farmers must be treated equally in this regard.
Farmers and the community are working together to keep their farms safe and now placing themselves at risk to help one another.
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