Farmers told to brand livestock

2012-09-21 00:00

THE high rate of stock theft in KwaZulu-Natal could easily be curbed if small-scale farmers were forced by law to brand their livestock, said KZN agricultural union (Kwanalu) spokesperson Koos Marais.

A total of 7 734 incidents were reported in the year ending March 31, 2012, compared to 7 402 the previous year.

The incidents in KZN constitute one quarter of all stock theft reported countrywide.

Marais said the rate was high because there was a large number of livestock in the province.

Another reason was that emerging or small-scale farmers did not brand their livestock, which made prosecution of thieves near impossible.

Moreover, in rural areas livestock roamed freely and it often took days to notice that animals were missing, said Marais.

“Stricter laws should be enforced that compel farmers to brand their animals, and they should be prosecuted if they fail to do so,” added Marais.

“Should their branded animals be found in someone else’s possession, prosecution of the thief would be easier because courts require concrete evidence.”

Marais said farmers should have registered brands.

He urged the Department of Agriculture to assist emerging farmers in this regard.

Meanwhile, police in Ulundi said stock theft in the area is “getting out of hand” — and the cattle are seldom found.

Police spokesperson for the Ulundi Cluster, Sabelo Dube, said that the theft had become rife and it was suspected that the thieves crossed the borders of Swaziland, Mozambique and Lesotho to steal the cattle.

“We constantly urge our local farmers to brand their livestock.

“Secondly, we plan to introduce a livestock transport permit as a means of curbing this crime,” said Dube.

Animals were stolen and then slaughtered and sold as cheap meat at pension pay-out points by hawkers.

“These thieves come back with the stolen meat and sell it at low prices at pension points and the owners of the cattle buy the meat without realising that it’s their meat,” said Dube.

In March alone, 50 head of livestock were stolen from various small scale farmers in Ulundi and surrounding areas. The most recent case in the area involved the theft of an unemployed subsistence farmer’s 13 goats in August.

Mzongeleni Ndwandwe (46), a father of four, said he was still “in disbelief”.

“I still cannot believe that all my goats are gone, I am only left with one. I depended on these goats to make a living. What is going to happen to me now, I don’t know.”

However, he said the police treated him “very well” and said they will continue to look for the missing herd.

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