F State farmers lose R80m to stock theft
Bloemfontein - Free State farmers lose an estimated R80m annually due to stock theft, the Provincial Commercial Farming Organisation told a government oversight committee on agriculture on Thursday.
Free State Agriculture CEO Henk Vermeulen said this also caused a loss to the state of an estimated R11m in value added tax.
Despite this, a police delegation asked to report on these figures before the same oversight committee indicated that they were not yet in a position to share the latest stock theft statistics with the public.
The police delegation asked the committee to hear the figures in-camera and asked that the media be requested to leave because Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa had not yet publicly announced the latest crime figures.
The request was allowed.
Earlier Vermeulen told the committee it was suspected that syndicates played a "huge" role in stock theft in the province.
The Free State suffered the biggest losses - 19% - compared with other provinces.
Vermeulen said that this negatively affected employment opportunities in the province.
Free State Agriculture Law and Order spokesman Kobus Breytenbach said the low percentage of people caught and convicted for these crimes also frustrated farmers.
"There is not enough people [police officers] and vehicles to do the work."
He said that some farmers also failed to report all stock theft.
Free State Agriculture urged politicians to help establish more municipal pounds for stolen and stray animals.
It said that pounds were mostly non-existent in many Free State municipalities.