FARMERS in many rural villages of Matatiele want courts to give harsh sentences to stock thieves. On Saturday, a meeting between local farmers and SAPS was held in Khoapa to try and find a solution.At the meeting they asked that government deploy more police and police vans to fight the scourge. Some threatened to take the law into their own hands because they say the courts release suspects without prosecuting them. They appealed to government to help them because stock is their only source of living. Feth Mokhesi, a farmer, said he lost 49 sheep on August 20 and his kraal is now empty. “Stock is my source of income as a local farmer because I used to sell sheep to buy food and school uniforms for my children. Thieves have made my life difficult,” said Mokhesi.Some farmers suspect that thieves from Matatiele work with those from Lesotho and take them to Lesotho.Another farmer Seshea Molefe said 61 cows owned by four farmers in Khoapa village were stolen in 2011, and after searching for them they could not find them. “In 2012 thieves stole 105 sheep in my area, but after we searched we found them abandoned in Lesotho,” said Molefe. To curb stock theft, government introduced marking livestock for identification purposes, but this does not help according to Molefe. He said he marked his cows, but this didn’t stop them from being stolen.SAPS spokesperson Captain Raphael Motloung advised farmers to partner with police to curb stock theft. “It is important for local farmers to immediately report stock theft, not to wait for days,” said Motloung.