Police to target ‘stocktheft lords’, Mthethwa tells farmers

2011-04-11 00:00

POLICE will target “stocktheft lords” as part of intensifying the war against livestock theft in rural areas, said Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa during a community engagement in Estcourt on Saturday.

This was the first leg of Mthethwa’s two-day engagement with farmers and the communities of Estcourt and Vryheid to address safety and security concerns, stocktheft and crime in general.

Lack of police resources and allegations that some police officers are in cahoots with criminals were among the concerns raised by the people of Estcourt.

The farming community in the area was not represented.

“From a police point of view we need to investigate why this stocktheft trend is recurring. What sort of criminals are we arresting? Are we not perhaps targeting the wrong people instead of narrowing our investigations to the stocktheft lords?” asked Mthethwa.

To address the challenges faced by the farming community in the area, a stocktheft security strategy was developed for the province.

This encompasses human and physical resources, suitable vehicles and deployment, better community involvement, marking and safeguarding of livestock, establishment of pounds and eradication of vigilantism and conducting quality investigations.

Estcourt has 22 stocktheft police members, but the community said the terrain requires more police officers.

This team is reported to have made considerable progress in reducing this form of crime in that in the 2009/2010 financial year 701 cases were reported and in 2010/2011 there were 579 cases.

A spokesperson for the Estcourt Farmers’ Association, Tim Ralfe, said he never received a formal invitation, but a phone call informing him about the meeting.

“Receiving an invitation or a call on Friday afternoon about a Saturday morning meeting is just not fair. We would have loved to be part of that engagement, but it was at such a short notice that we couldn’t prepare,” said Ralfe.

In Vryheid yesterday local farmers told Mthethwa that police are lazy and corrupt. This prompted the minister to warn such officers that their days in the SA Police Force are numbered, and he suggested building more police stations in Vryheid and its rural areas.

The minister has given the provincial leadership team three months, with effect from today, to resolve all the issues raised at the meetings and to provide him with regular updates on progress.

579 Stock theft cases investigated in 2010/2011.

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