The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is concerned at the rise of stock theft in the province.
This follows the release of crime statistics by the Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele.
Statistics indicated an upward trend of stock theft in parts of the province, which affects communal and commercial farmers.
According to statistics, high numbers of stock theft cases were registered in Bergville, Dannhauser, Impendle, Utrecht, Taylor’s Halt and elsewhere.
While the department has been able to intensify efforts to curb any increase in stock theft by comprehensive animal branding programmes, it is clear more needs to be done to stamp out this criminality.
The department — under its veterinary services component — is working in various districts, assisting communal farmers to brand livestock and get authentic permits as contingency steps to assist in identifying stolen stock and deter potential theft.
The rise in stock theft requires all stakeholders to ensure all efforts to alleviate this menace are co-ordinated on a national, provincial, local and communal level.
“While the department has largely been able to conscientise farmers at a societal level about protective measures to circumvent theft, the ball is also in the law enforcement agencies’ court. They are charged with the responsibility to fight crime, to accelerate the speed in which they approach this problem.
“Stock theft requires all affected parties commercial farmers, communal farmers, livestock associations and farmer organisations, government, security and crime combating clusters in the police, including intelligence interventions to form a united front,” the KZN Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said in a statement.
Farmers are urged to contact local agricultural offices for more information on livestock branding and report stock theft to their nearest police station.