Stock theft: Only the best horses stolen in wave of incidents

2008-08-25 00:00

Farmers believe a stock theft syndicate is operating in Pietermaritzburg and surrounding areas.

This follows a Witness report on Friday that said 13 horses have been stolen from different farms in Boston in the past two weeks.

On Thursday, the SPCA rescued two horses and two donkeys from thieves in Edendale.

Another four horses were stolen from a Winterton farm in Mooi River on Tuesday night.

Mark Bentley, one of the victims, told The Witness that only the best horses are being targeted and the thieves seem to know exactly where the animals are. On Tuesday, thieves dismantled Bentley's fence and stole two of his best horses.

"When I woke up in the morning, my horses were running around the farm. As I came closer, I discovered that my best horses were stolen. The way in which these crimes took place proves that they are committed by a well-organised syndicate," said Bentley.

He added that it appears the thieves inspected the farms before they struck.

KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) president Robin Barnsley echoed Bentley's supicions.

"These crimes are not random. They are well-organised and there is a lot of money involved. Stock theft has become a business and there are clear indications of syndicate involvement," said Barnsley.

"Subsistence stock farmers are also hard hit by the crime. The whole agricultural sector is feeling the pinch because they are losing millions of rands."

Barnsley believes that only a "stronger [police] reaction unit" can help address the problem.

"There are a number of cases that are being investigated by the Stock Theft Unit, but only a few of the culprits have been brought to book. The Stock Theft Unit should be more active if we are to win this war," he said.

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