- The threat of stock theft syndicates has been highlighted by the murder of 21-year-old Brendin Horner in Senekal.
- Some farmers alleged that police were involved in the syndicates.
- After an initial denial, the Hawks have reportedly confirmed receiving a report about this and will investigate.
After an initial denial, the Hawks have confirmed that they received a report last year which alleged that some police officers were involved in livestock theft in Paul Roux and Senekal in the Free State, Rapport reports.
The threat of stock theft syndicates has been highlighted by the murder of 21-year-old farm manager Brendin Horner on a farm near Paul Roux.
The accused in the case were also charged with stock theft.
Herkie Viljoen, chairperson of a safety committee that represents around 500 farmers in the area, earlier told Rapport that he submitted a report about police involvement in stock theft to the Hawks months ago.
The report alleges that stolen animals were found on a farm owned by a police general, and accuses a station commander in one town in the eastern Free State of being near farms around the time that they were targeted.
The report contains registration numbers of cars used in attacks, as well as the names of possible whistleblowers in the police.
Two weeks ago, Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi told Rapport that he didn't know about the report.
But on Sunday, the publication reported that Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale had confirmed to the Institute of Race Relations that the report was shared with a lieutenant general in the Hawks following a chance meeting over another case in November last year.
The report was forwarded to police representatives.
Mogale confirmed to the IRR that the Hawks in the Free State were now looking into the report.
While Cele was in the area, Viljoen handed him the report detailing stock theft statistics and alleging police involvement in these crimes.
He asked the minister to root out "corrupt" officials.
When he was asked about alleged police involvement in livestock theft at a meeting with the farming community in Bethlehem recently, Cele committed to investigate these allegations.
"I'm told there are police who have farms and cattle, so I want them to show me receipts, where did they buy those?" Cele told the farmers.
Just hours after Cele and State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo met with farmers, an unknown number of thieves made their way onto Concordia Farm, in the same area where Horner was killed on 1 October.
Through the use of drones, the livestock they stole was later found in a makeshift kraal on a mountain on a nearby farm.
More than 1 500 farm animals were stolen in Senekal and Paul Roux in April and August last year - double the number in the same period in the previous year, Rapport reported.
Viljoen told Cele that stock theft losses amounted to more than R1 million a month in the area, News24 reported.