North West farmers dispute police stats on stock theft cases

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Livestock farmers say police crime statistics that reflect a general decline in stock theft cases do not reflect the reality on the ground.

Many farmers in remote areas of the North West have opted to organise themselves to combat stock theft in their areas. They complain of collusion between police and known suspects and the lack of prosecution in many of the cases they have reported.

Stock theft statistics show a 5.5 % decrease in cases nationally, as well as a 0.3% decrease in the North West. However, farmers say these numbers are not realistic as many of them continue to lose large numbers of livestock to theft.

One such farmer is Ananies Maloisane. “Stock theft has affected me to a point where my finances have also suffered…last time they took seven of my sheep and we later found them in someone else’s yard. After we found them we called the police but they told us that they couldn’t open a case because I found my sheep…sometimes when we apprehend a thief, they advise him to claim that I kidnapped him.”

Consequently, affected farmers, such as Mompati Mothupi have begun to organise themselves and are calling for more intensified interventions to counter this criminality.

“We don’t trust the police much. The police do their own patrols in the village without involving us as farmers who’ve organised themselves. This shows us that they are perpetuating this criminality… At our last meeting, we decided that we should go and ask for assistance from the military to see if they can’t help us,” says Mothupi.

Provincial police commissioner, Lieutenant General Sello Kwena says they’ve intensified their activities to combat anticipated increases in stock theft this festive season.

“Towards the festive season, stock theft cases are very high…stock theft is committed mostly in the evening and early hours of the morning. So the far-flung stations, more especially stations in Wolmaranstad, as I indicated, your stations like Bary, Vostershoop and Mokopong, there are police officials who are continuously patrolling those areas…from time to time they do stop the thieves with the stock at the back of their vehicles so they are alert. That’s what we are doing as police. It’s not enough. As you know crime prevention is not the responsibility of the police alone.”

However, farmers say they have prepared themselves for the worst this festive season.

Video: Farmers in North West villages unite against surge in stock theft