by Ina Cilliers MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development
1609 cases of stock theft were reported to the SAPS in Gauteng between March 2017 and September 2018, with 1159 cases occurring in the 2017/18 period and six months into the next financial year, already 450 cases have been reported.
This compared to 903 cases in 2014/2015, 888 cases in 2015/2016, and 1016 cases during the 2016/2017 financial year.
These latest reported cases involved the theft of 3123 head of cattle, 2907 sheep, 266 pigs, 2269 goats and 41 donkeys or horses at a conservative estimated value upward of R40 million.
According to the written reply received from the MEC, the Tshwane region appears to be hardest hit, while the West Rand did not have a single reported case during this period.
Recent research suggests that farmers are increasingly reluctant to report stock theft to police citing reasons such as a lack of trust in police processes and a breakdown in the relationship between farmers and police.
The apparent absence of stock theft on the West Rand according to SAPS records further bears this out, and casts serious aspersions on the reply received from SAPS.
Furthermore, the conviction rate of merely 17% of reported cases in Gauteng over the period in question brings home the realisation that farmers would rather try to stay economically viable in favour of engaging the SAPS in a burdensome and futile exercise of reporting crime.
In Gauteng especially, the rural crime hotspot of the country, a conversation about the future of agribusiness can no longer be credible without also including the serious challenges farmers face regarding rural crimes.
SAPS are increasingly unable to protect rural communities.
The DA has long held that specialised rural safety units must be re-introduced and properly resourced.
Separate and accurate statistics regarding rural crime must be maintained so that statistical analysis can be employed to enhance intelligence and police operations. Innovation in new technology such as surveillance drones, Shot Spotter and geofencing must be explored as a matter of urgency.
This is an integral part of professionalising the police force, which is part of our core offer, and will also help ensure our continued food security in Gauteng.