Decline in stock theft likely due to less reporting
The slight decline in stock theft cases reported between April and June compared to the same period last year should not be misread as a sign of “goodwill” but rather as a result of less reporting of incidents.
This is according to DA shadow MEC for community safety Bobby Stevenson.
The reason is mainly due to the fatigue and lack of public confidence in the SAPS, according to well-informed sources and the police.
During the second quarter of 2021 (April to June), 1,532 cases were reported in the Eastern Cape, a 7% decline.
In the Chris Hani district, the fourth worst-affected region after Alfred Ndzo, Amathole and Buffalo City, there were 985 and 869 reported cases in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
According to police spokesperson Captain Namhla Mdleleni, the Chris Hani District Stock Theft Unit had recorded 403 cases of stock theft between April and September to date.
She said 94 suspects had been arrested.
“The most affected areas were Comfivaba, Queenstown [Komani], Dalasile, Dordrecht and Ngcobo,” Mdleleni said.
The Queenstown Police Station, ranked number 25 among the top 30 police stations for stock theft cases, recorded 15 cases between April and June 2022. This was almost half of the 28 cases reported in 2019, a peak year.
The National Stock Theft Prevention Forum (NSTPF) reported that livestock to the value of R1.24bn had been stolen in SA during the 2018/2019 financial year.
In the 2021/2022 financial year, 8,101 cattle were stolen, valued at R15,000 each.
Another 35,600 sheep were stolen, along with 9,589 goats, valued at R2,000 each and bringing the total to R38m.
NSTPF chair Willie Clack said stock theft in Komani was not as bad as in towns like Bityi, Mthatha, Tsolo, Qumbu and Mount Frere.
“The reason why these towns experience higher numbers of cases is because of various factors such as the topography. These areas are mostly mountainous, there’s no fencing and ownership is very difficult to prove,” Clack said.
Stevenson, said: “Stock theft remains a massive problem in the Eastern Cape, as seen in the numbers. Although the official figures show a slight decline, they still remain very high.
“The decline in figures can also be attributed to less people reporting stock theft.”
Stevenson said a multidisciplinary approach involving all authorities was needed to combat stock theft, as well as using new security technologies such as drone cameras.
A SAPS operation in the Sterkspruit area revealed that stock owners left their animals on the mountains for long periods of time, not realising they had been stolen.
Captain Ursula Roelofse said this delay in reporting cases made it difficult to investigate incidents.
“Stock owners hire people from Lesotho as herd-boys with no documentation, often not knowing their names.”
Animals were also not properly branded or tagged.
Attempts to get comment from the stock theft unit in Komani were unsuccessful by the time of going to print.