Brand your livestock

2016-02-08 09:30
PMB police stock theft unit section commander Captain Vincent Xaba (left) and Midlands Pound owner Bruce Mattison look over some of the recovered livestock at the police pound near Howick.

PMB police stock theft unit section commander Captain Vincent Xaba (left) and Midlands Pound owner Bruce Mattison look over some of the recovered livestock at the police pound near Howick. (Amil Umraw, The Witness)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Pietermaritzburg - Livestock thieves are well aware that if they are caught with unbranded stolen livestock, there is little chance of being convicted.

This according to the police stock theft unit, who yesterday warned all farmers and livestock owners to brand or tag their animals, or face the possibility of them being stolen with little chance of recovery.

Sheep and cows are the most common targets, and the number of thefts on communal and commercial farms in the Midlands fluctuates every month.

Experts said branding animals not only takes the pressure off police and the courts, but also saves victims’ funds and increases the chances of recovering stolen animals.

Bruce Mattison, who runs the Midlands Pound near Howick, said if a stock owner falls victim to theft and opens a case with the police, the state covers the costs for housing the animals at the pound if or when the branded animals are found.

However, if the animals are unbranded, the owner must pay storage costs to the pound. “We keep a recovered animal for 30 days. Thereafter, if the animal is unclaimed, it is sold on public auction,” Mattison said.

The highly successful Pietermaritzburg police stock theft unit — a 20-officer-strong team that handles a wide area between Dalton, Howick, Richmond, Durban, Verulam and Umkomaas — attribute their successes to a strong relationship with community leaders.

Section commander Captain Vincent Xaba said the unit holds regular meetings with elders in rural communities to educate them on stock theft, branding and stray livestock.

“Often we recover animals without the owners even knowing they were stolen. Communal farmers are the hardest hit due to a lack of management in keeping their livestock,” Xaba said.

“If we have positive information, and the animal is properly tagged or branded, we can locate the stolen animal within three days.”

However, both Xaba and Mattison said it is sometimes difficult to convince some livestock owners to brand their animals due to common misconceptions that exist in some communities.

Mattison said for example livestock owners may be reluctant to brand their animals because they can be held liable if the animal goes astray on a highway and causes an accident.

KZN Agricultural Union security desk chairperson Koos Marais said stock theft is a major crime as it results in a “huge financial loss” to all owners.

“An owner may have only 20 head of cattle and if 10 are stolen, that is half his income gone. It takes some stock owners up to three years to regain their losses in these cases,” Marais said.

“By law, all cattle should be branded and the animal cannot be sold otherwise. In a court of law, a branded animal ensures a good and speedy prosecution for thieves.

“Unmarked, the thieves know the case will not hold up in court so these are the animals they target,” he said.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  livestock  |  theft

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.