Hamstrung cattle: nine arrested

2010-06-24 00:00

NINE suspects have been arrested in connection with a cattle attack on a local farmer’s cattle three weeks ago.

The arrests were made by a special police task team established just a couple of days ago — incorporating members of the dog unit, the detective unit, crime prevention, crime intelligence and the stock theft unit — under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Dingaan Khumalo.

The team was established after a Kokstad farmer, whose cattle were brutally attacked at the end of May, found a placard fastened to his gate last weekend demanding that he and his employees vacate the farm within one month or they will be killed.

Allistar McDougal, a dairy farmer of Driefontein farm near Kokstad, received the death threat after weeks of intimidation. Three weeks ago, criminals injured 37 of his cattle. Eight were put down after they were found hamstrung. They also burnt 150 hay bales worth about R45 000.

In the note, the criminals claimed to be McDougal’s former employees. They demanded that he and his employees, who came with him from Limpopo four years ago, vacate the area or they will be back to kill them.

“All the employees you dismissed from your employment are back. According to a decision they have made, all your employees that you have hired last should go back to Limpopo where they belong. This is not Limpopo,” says the placard.

The placard went on to say that in one month the former employees will kill the people at the farm and destroy the farm.

This prompted McDougal to lay a charge with the Kokstad police. The police confirmed that a case of intimidation had been opened.

McDougal said that when he arrived in the area, he had hired local people, but dismissed them after they arrived drunk for work and started fighting during working hours.

He added that since he had moved to the area he had experienced problems with crime. “Six months after I arrived, they tried to destroy my dairy. They hacked two calves and a horse to death. They also tried to sabotage my irrigation system.”

McDougal said he is almost certain that a criminal element operating in the area is trying to force him off his land. He knows of no land claim on the property.

“They tried to infiltrate my employees, but they failed because I have been with them for a long time and I trust them.”

The suspects arrested in connection with the attack, who are between the ages of 25 and 40, cannot be named at this stage.

Khumalo said his team is hot on the heels of two outstanding suspects. He said the suspects are linked to various cases of stock theft that have taken place in the area.

Khumalo also revealed that some of the suspects are implicated in other cases relating to house burglaries and the theft of firearms.

Koos Marais of the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union’s security desk said he is “delighted at the arrests”.

“It is up to the court now to deter stock thieves and criminals, as it is our constitutional right to be protected by the law,” said Marais.

Mount Currie Farmers’ Association chairperson Michael Rennie applauded the work of the police officers, adding that farmers expect to see hefty sentences imposed.

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