Butchery owner bust for stolen livestock

The butcher's bakkie was intercepted by police after they received a tip-off that he was carrying the hacked carcass of a stolen cow.

THE owner of a Mondlo butchery was nabbed by police for stock theft after being caught with the slaughtered remains of a stolen cow in his bakkie.

Local farmers claim the butcher has been caught stealing cattle to conduct his business several times in the past few years and they are hoping that this time, the charges will lead to a heftier sentence.

Vryheid SPCA vice chairman, Stephan Vickers, described the manner in which the cattle were said to be killed by the butcher, as absolutely shocking and inhumane. “I hope the court also takes into consideration the cruel way the cattle were killed when they are sentencing him,” said Mr Vickers.

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According to Wynand Swanepoel, the farmer whose cow the butcher was driving away with, when he was caught, the tendons in the legs of the cows are hacked with a panga so that the cow does not move, then the cow is killed with a spear through the head. Without ensuring that the animal has actually died, the thieves then go to work quickly, hacking the carcass with a panga and loading the pieces into their vehicle.

“They do this in the cattle camp and they are so fast. In one night, they once managed to slaughter four cows in one camp. The way in which they do it is very cruel,” said Mr Swanepoel.

He went on to say that he spends about R500 000 on security every year, has electric fencing around his property and even arranges for a worker to be accommodated close enough to the cattle camp to observe any suspicious activity… But the butcher still managed to get in and out of the property without alerting anybody.

“He was caught after the police received a tip-off from a member of the community. The police were able to identify my cow from the branding and informed me of what had happened. I am very glad that the police have caught him and I want to urge them to ensure that they do whatever needs to be done to ensure a conviction with a hefty sentence. This kind of theft can ruin an upcoming farmer. If you are only starting off with about 15 head of cattle and you have had 5 of them stolen in one night, you may not be able to afford to continue farming,” he concluded.

According to national crime statistics released by SAPS, stock theft is on the rise in all nine provinces, with an 8.8% increase in the number of cases reported this year, when compared to last year.

Lt. Col Johan Scott, commander: Stock Theft Unit Vereeniging, gives producers the following safety hints on how to prevent livestock theft, which can also be found at www.grainsa.co.za:

– Livestock owners should keep all fences and gates in proper condition to protect their livestock. The employment of a specially-trained employee can be considered for daily fence patrolling. This person can see to it that holes in and under fences are repaired at once.

– Loading ramps in paddocks or on farms away from direct supervision should be kept locked or obstructed at all times.

– Many court cases are lost because of disputes regarding the proper identification of animals. If an animal is marked with a registered brandmark or tattoo, disputes will be avoided. Employees should mark their livestock properly, according to the Animal Identification Act, 2002 (Act No. 6 of 2002), preferably by branding them.

– Be particularly watchful during full moon, weekends and at the end or beginning of a month or during periods that you know from your own experience, when stock thefts (slaughtering for the pot) occur.

– Livestock owners should at all times report all livestock theft cases on their property immediately. The longer the delay, the less the possibility of achieving success in an investigation.

– Employees should be trained to pay attention to irregularities. Ask your employees to be careful about what they say in the presence of strangers regarding activities on the farm. Careless talk can lead to livestock losses.

– It often happens that stock theft cases have to be withdrawn due to a lack of interest or reluctance shown by some complainants to attend court proceedings. Show interest and attend all court cases.

Estella Naicker

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