Stock-theft is on the increase in the Northern Cape with farmers in the Windsorton area, near Barkley West, paying a heavy price. The hard-hit farmers are considering leaving the sector.

South African Police Service (SAPS) statistics released last year noted an annual increase in the province and put the current figure at 14.9%.

Farming has become a burden for those who are emerging in the sector in the Northern Cape. They say they have lost hundreds of livestock to thieves over the past few months. Hundreds of thousands of rand lost in livestock mean that the farmers are battling to keep their businesses afloat.

Farmers say that cattle theft is ruining their businesses. “Stock theft is high here. They are ruining us. Our cattle enclosures are empty,” says a farmer.

Farmers have also called for harsh sentences for those arrested for cattle theft. “Those that are arrested must be sentenced heavily because they are arrested, let go and then do the same thing again.”

A 44-year-old female farmer, Dorcas Sewedi, says she is worried about the safety of her employees.

“I’m worried about what will happen in the future, how many more will they steal? You can tell that the people who did this are very ruthless. I am very worried about the safety of my workers.”

The African Farmers’ Association of South Africa says the rate at which these numbers have increased over years, indicates that people are no longer stealing to eat, but rather for business purposes.

The Association’s Sehularo Sehularo says that an upgrade in the security at farms is needed.

“We as farmers we need to upgrade our security. People are no longer stealing because they want to eat, stock theft is now a business, people no longer steal one sheep. You find that they steel about 20, 15, 10 so you can see that it’s a syndicate. Stock theft has become a serious business because you find that someone has invested money and he goes to buy that stock and all of a sudden within few hours your livestock is gone so it really really has an impact in the farming business.”

The union has called for more visible policing on farms. – Reporting by Refilwe Kurite.

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