More police needed to fight stock theft
THE SAPS is short of 321 personnel to boost the numbers of officers dealing with livestock theft.
Currently, there are 1236 officers spread across the nine provinces dealing with the problem.
Brigadier OJ Kgopodithata, addressing the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries seminar on the issue in Pretoria yesterday, said the Eastern Cape was the leading province affected by livestock theft.
The former Transkei capital of Mthatha was one of the hot spots where the theft was rife, with 312 reported cases, followed by Maluti with 282, Qumbu 275 and Sulenkama at 273.
Kgopodithata said the Eastern Cape had 22 SAPS stock theft units, Free State 11, Gauteng 2, KwaZuluNatal 18, Limpopo 8, Mpumalanga 11, Northern Cape and North West 7 each and Western Cape 6.
He accused livestock thieves of being in cahoots with farmworkers, but said farmers were to blame as well, for doing little to brand their livestock.
Kgopodithata said some of the challenges the police faced were a lack of a state/municipal pound; non-existence of legislation relating to livestock; and poor condition of border fences. He called for communities to be part of their local policing forums.
Despite the challenges, the SAPS conviction rate was over 80.9 percent, with sentences ranging from eight to 24 years in jail.
Farmers who attended the summit said, however, that a large percentage of them didn’t report stock theft because of frustration with the criminal justice system.