Wire theft threatens farming

2009-12-14 00:00

WIRE thieves have put farming in Hattingspruit near Dundee under severe strain as they “regularly” steal fencing, forcing the farmers to use the money budgeted for production to replace the fences.

Farmers say the cost of re-fencing runs to millions as it costs between R10 000 and R12 000 per kilometre.

Martin Maritz, one of the affected farmers, said that in the past two years, his farm and six surrounding farms have been repeatedly victimised by thieves who steal the barbed wire, steel poles and stakes from their farms.

He said this year alone, he has had to open at least five cases of theft.

He said their farming is taking strain. “We are doing cattle farming here, so if your cattle wander off, you have to spend days looking for them … you cannot simply report them stolen because they might have wandered off on to farms that have not been fenced.

“The cost of replacing the fence runs into millions of rand and money we use to put back the fences comes from our farming budget.

“My operation is a small one and it cannot cope with such losses.”

He accused the police of incompetence, saying their ineptitude has worsened the situation, “I have even resorted to hiring security guards, who cost between R3 000 and R4 000 per month, and the costs just spiral and I simply cannot afford that.”

Another farmer, Samson Mkhize, said they are under siege from the thieves. “You replace the fence today, and the following week they have stolen it again. We do not know what to do anymore because we cannot catch them.”

Koos Marais, the manager at the security desk of the farmers’ union, KwaNalu. said the thefts will cripple farming. “If the situation continues like this, there will be a lot of vacant land.” He said they believe the people responsible should be arrested and charged immediately.

Captain Mduduzi Mbatha of Hattingspruit police station conceded that there is a problem of theft of fencing, especially at Maritz’s farm. He said the numerous cases he has filed with the police are unsolvable. “The size and the terrain of the farm makes it impossible to police.”

Mbatha said they will meet the farmers to try to find a solution.

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