Farmers hit hard by petty crime

2009-09-18 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL farmers have been hit hard by petty crime on their farms, it emerged during a discussion about farm crime at the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (KwaNalu) yesterday.

Sandy La Marque, KwaNalu chief executive officer, outlined the substantial losses that have been suffered by farmers.

She said farmers in the country are losing more than R24 million due to pilfering and about R14 million due to stealing.

And she estimated that about R47 million per year has been lost to petty crime on farms.

However, she added, stock theft has cost the industry a lot more.

La Marque said the industry is losing about R108 million per year. She identified KwaZulu-Natal as the province that has been most affected by the crime wave on farms, especially stock theft.

“Stock theft is taking millions from the industry. Even if some of the stolen stock is recovered, it is usually in very bad condition,” La Marque added.

She said that many commercial farmers in the province have suffered such major losses that they are withdrawing from the industry altogether.

Some farmers at the discussion said they believe law enforcement is letting them down.

Scott Scot of the south coast criticised the poor response from law enforcement agencies.

“When someone is caught on the farm stealing, it’s described as petty theft. If they are caught in the shop stealing, its shoplifting and the punishment is much more severe.”

The farmers agreed that the crime wave is crippling their industry and that there is an urgent need for the matter to be dealt with.

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