“LIVESTOCK theft It has existed since Bible times, “says Harkey Biljon, a farmer on the outskirts of Bethlehem, a well-named town in the Free States. But in recent years it has reached an ungodly ratio. Standing next to a huge map of the state, he points to a small red circle with black dots representing stolen animals. In some places, the farm appears to be covered with poppy fields.
In South Africa, 218,000 cattle, sheep and goats were captured during the 12 months from 180,000 five years ago to March. The total loss over the last two years was about Rand 900 million ($ 60 million), about twice the annual black market value of poached rhino horns. This year’s losses will probably be even greater, as the economic impact of the pandemic makes it difficult to live a legitimate life.
Decades ago, the theft was “for a pot.” Today, 87% of cases are associated with criminal syndication, says Willie Crack of the University of South Africa. Gangsters behave differently depending on the location. Thieves in KwaZulu-Natal, adjacent to parts of the Free State, often load cattle into heavy trucks and travel to Lesotho. Inside a mountainous kingdom surrounded by South Africa, syndicates change the brand of cattle before they are brought back across the border for sale at auctions and slaughterhouses. It’s like washing a car, but using cows instead of Porsche.
Livestock theft can be seen through racial lenses. The largest victim of robbery in the Free State is a white Afrikaner who runs a large farm. Perhaps one-fifth of farm murders in the state include the remarkable killings of 21-year-old farm manager Brendin Horner on October 1, and are related to syndication. However, the victims of most cases of theft are small black farmers. Due to the small number of animals they own, a single incident can ruin their entire livelihood.
Both whites and blacks are victims of the rigid criminal justice system. There are dedicated livestock theft units within the police, but they are siled and underfunded. Lack of arrest and prosecution means “no deterrent,” argues Roy Yankee Luzon, leader of the Free State opposition Democratic Alliance. After Horner’s murder, State Police Minister Beki Celle promised that he would investigate the livestock syndicate. “I’ve seen stock theft numbers. It’s hell,” he said, and if police were found to be bribed, they would have to replace their blue uniforms with orange jumpsuits. I added.
Meanwhile, the farmers are protecting themselves. As is often the case in South Africa, those who can afford to do so are finding private solutions to public sector problems. Viljoen’s “command center”, funded by 450 local farmers, uses 65,000 people CCTV A camera for finding rusty people. Farmers are also deploying drones, GPS-Tagging to find parloined stocks.
However, such measures can only be taken so far. After visiting the command center, correspondents head to the Caledon River, which marks the border with Lesotho, and pass by two empty chairs for soldiers to watch. Donkeys and cows quench their thirst, and children happily fly from one country to another. “Do you understand!” The boy shouts. “There are no borders!” ■■
This article was published in the printed version of the “Middle East and Africa” section under the heading “Where is the beef?”.
Where is the beef? -Livestock theft is more common in South Africa | Middle East and Africa
Source link Where is the beef? -Livestock theft is more common in South Africa | Middle East and Africa