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The Extent of Livestock Theft in South Africa

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Agriculture is one of the cornerstones in any country's economy. Therefore, the different crimes committed within the rural agricultural communities need to be researched as they impact on the economy and food security of the country. The importance of crimes committed in the rural areas of South Africa is neglected by researchers in the field of humanities and related research areas. In South Africa, livestock theft is the only crime committed on farms which is indicated separately within the National Crime Statistics. Irrespective, the crime is neglected by researchers and the extent of the crime is not comprehended within the criminal justice system or the academia This article will attempt to explore the extent of stock theft in South Africa by focusing on the number of cases reported, livestock stolen and the differences in theft of specific livestock species and the economic impact of crime on agriculture. The article will not deal with any crime theories related to the crime as it is regarded as a separate research topic. It is believed that by elevating the extent of stock theft to a platform where academics studying criminal justice in South Africa take cognisance of the crime, that the social impact on all communities, rural or urban, could then become a research topic.
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THE EXTENT OF STOCK THEFT IN SOUTH AFRICA
Willie Clack1
ABSTRACT
Agriculture is one of the cornerstones in any country’s economy. Therefore, the different
crimes committed within the rural agricultural communities need to be researched as they
impact on the economy and food security of the country. The importance of crimes committed
in the rural areas of South Africa is neglected by researchers in the field of humanities and
related research areas. In South Africa, livestock theft is the only crime committed on farms
which is indicated separately within the National Crime Statistics. Irrespective, the crime is
neglected by researchers and the extent of the crime is not comprehended within the criminal
justice system or the academia This article will attempt to explore the extent of stock theft in
South Africa by focusing on the number of cases reported, livestock stolen and the differences
in theft of specific livestock species and the economic impact of crime on agriculture. The
article will not deal with any crime theories related to the crime as it is regarded as a
separate research topic. It is believed that by elevating the extent of stock theft to a platform
where academics studying criminal justice in South Africa take cognisance of the crime, that
the social impact on all communities, rural or urban, could then become a research topic.
Keywords: Agriculture, farm crimes, food security, economic, livestock, rural areas, stock
theft
INTRODUCTION
Agriculture remains the largest segment of the economy in most rural communities of both
developed and developing countries (Bell & Pandey, 1997; Buttel, Larson, & Gillespie, 1990;
Lasley, Leistritz, Lobao, & Meyer, 1995) quoted by Donnermeyer and Barclay, 2005: 3).
South Africa is no exception as 82.3 per cent of the land is utilised for farming and 68.6 per
cent of the total land is grazing land and therefore more suitable for extensive livestock
farming, be it beef cattle, sheep, goats or game, than crop production. Agriculture is also the
economic enterprise that does not only provide for the food security of the nation or world,
but also contributes to improving household food security and addressing poverty alleviation
in small-scale communal farming (Red Meat Research Development Planning Committee
(RMRDT), 2012: 6).
The figures of land use and requirements indicate the significance of agriculture as a whole
but also of livestock in society. In South Africa, crime in the rural agricultural community is
high if compared to the extent of the urban community and ranges from execution-style
murders, attempted murder, rape, attacks aimed at causing grievous bodily harm, humiliation,
robbery, armed robbery, vehicle hijacking, damage to property, arson and mutilation of
animals, livestock theft, etc. (Schutte, 2004: 7579). The South African Police Service
(SAPS) is responsible for the administration and publication of crime statistics.
Unfortunately, of all these possible crimes committed in the agricultural community, only
theft of stock is recorded as a separate crime on farms. All other crimes committed on farms
are included in the overall statistics of crimes which do not distinguish between crimes
committed in rural and urban areas.
_________________________
1 Senior Lecturer, Department of Corrections Management, School of Criminal Justice, College of Law,
University of South Africa. Email: WClack@unisa.ac.za
Open Rubric
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Statistics South Africa specifies livestock theft as a percentage of the monetary value of all
losses on farms for the period 2008-2010. According to these statistics, livestock theft over
the period contributed on average towards 12.1 per cent of all the losses on farms in South
Africa (Statistics South Africa (SSS) 2012: 13), (SSS, 2011: 9).
PROBLEM STATEMENT
When embarking on a literature review to develop an idea of the impact of crime on
agricultural farms in South Africa, it becomes evident that there is a serious inadequacy of
research on the topic. The inadequacy of research on farms is not limited to South Africa and
is also found in other literature reviews addressing stock theft and farm crimes
internationally. Internationally, in the fields of criminology, penology and the whole criminal
justice system, there is a bias towards research in urban areas and therefore a total neglect of
rural areas and the crimes on farms (Jones, 2010: 36, Swanson et al. 2000 in Smith, 2010:
373). The inadequacy and bias is conspicuous as there is a difference between rural and urban
crimes (Mears, Scott & Bhati, 2007: 1, Barclay & Donnermeyer, 2001: 3). The neglect of
research on farms is the result of a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons may be that a)
academics in the human sciences rather attempt to do research in urban areas b) due to the
number of people in rural areas, researchers may struggle to find large enough populations
for quantitative research c) the extent and vastness of the rural areas make research extremely
expensive and d) farming communities resist to participating in research due to a lack of trust
in researchers to keep information privileged and confidential and a natural resistance to
providing any personal information.
In South Africa during the 1990s and early 2000s, many researchers did research on the topic
of farm attacks and there was also a tendency to focus on other rural crimes such as the illegal
wildlife trade. Presently, research that addresses rhinoceros poaching is popular and receives
the attention of the public on a daily or weekly basis through reporting by the media. The
reporting is of such an extent that the rhinoceros was awarded the newsmaker of the year
award in 2013 by the National Press Club (Slabbert, 2013: 1). Rhinoceros poaching is a
highly salient crime in the public mind, due to the emotional impact. On the contrary,
livestock theft is neglected. Kahneman (2011: 23) is of the opinion that frequently mentioned
topics in the media populate the mind and other topics in this case livestock theft, slip away
from awareness and become totally forgotten. This phenomenon of total neglect is not limited
to the general public but is also the case within the academia and agricultural community as a
whole. On 3 August 2013, Gerhard Schutte,1 in a telephone conversation with the author,
mentioned “we never thought of livestock theft as a priority crime that could be researched
from a criminal justice point of view”.
In South Africa, livestock theft is declared a priority crime in the National Rural Safety
Strategy of SAPS. At the launch, then national police commissioner Bheki Cele said “stock
theft had been prioritised because rural safety concerns are just as important and devastating
as crime in the country’s urban centers” (Coleman, 2011: 1). This statement by the former
National Commissioner is in conflict with the findings in researching the topic.
In 2012, the Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF) mentioned in a media statement that livestock
theft in South Africa is completely out of control and the impact threatens the sustainability
of livestock production in most of the provinces in South Africa (Hyslop 2012). Despite these
claims, the extent of livestock theft is not really understood and therefore sometimes becomes
futile semantic rhetoric amongst politicians, people in organised agriculture and journalists.
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An array of examples of this rhetoric is found in popular journals such as Farmers Weekly
(Mashala 2012) and Landbouweekblad (Stoltz 2012). This rhetoric, resorting to extremes,
stresses the need that the correct picture must be portrayed not only to the agricultural
community but also to the community at large.
The impact of livestock theft is mainly economic but the emotional impact on the victims
cannot be ignored. Economically, the crime affects the business enterprise of each and every
livestock producer, irrespective of whether the producer is a commercial farmer or small-
scale farmer, and is the largest obstacle in sustainable livestock production and food
security(Khoabane & Black, 2009: 3, Gouws 2012). The small-scale agriculturalists are even
more severely affected by livestock theft than commercial farmers, based on the economies
of scale (SAPS, 2011a: 8). It is indisputable that if you own 10 cattle and 1 is stolen you lose
10 per cent of your herd, whilst if you have a 100 cattle and 1 is stolen you lose 1 per cent of
the herd. It is not only the economies of scale that need to be taken into account, but also the
future economic impact on herd expansions and food security. Mashala (2012) provides a
thorough example of this economic effect. This article will not discriminate between the
difference in the effect of the crime on communal and commercial farmers as it is impossible
because statistics are not provided to determine the difference between the two distinctions.
Evaluating the claims that livestock theft is rampant and out of hand in South Africa requires
that a number of variables be investigated in order to confirm or deny the hypothesis.
Variables that need to be considered are the extent of livestock crime compared to other
crimes; number of livestock stolen, with the emphasis on the three main categories: cattle,
sheep and goats; the number of cattle stolen and found and the number of livestock theft
cases reported.
Aim of the article
This article aims is to create awareness of a neglected crime livestock theft in South
Africa within the media and academia. The extent of stock theft is addressed by focusing on
the number of cases reported, livestock stolen and the differences amongst the species and its
economic impact. Aspects that contribute to livestock theft as a crime, sentencing and crime
theories, for example social control theory, routine activity theory or possibly opportunity
theories, are not addressed in this article.
Definition of livestock
Livestock, according to the Stock Theft Act No 57 of 1959 (Department of Justice, South
Africa 1959: 2), refers to a wide range and variety of species. The Stock Theft Act defines
livestock as “any horse, mule, ass, bull, cow, ox, heifer, calf, sheep, goat, pig, poultry,
domesticated ostrich, domesticated game or the carcase or portion of the carcase of any such
stock”.
The definition includes a wide variety of livestock but not all have a major impact on the
extent of livestock theft. Over the years, and as time progressed the theft of cattle, sheep and
goats contribute to approximately 89 per cent of all livestock theft in South Africa. The other
animals included in the definition horse, mule, ass, pig, poultry, domesticated ostrich,
domesticated game or the carcase or portion of the carcase of any such stock only
contribute 11 per cent of livestock theft on average. If you distinguish between the animals in
the latter categories it is evident that their numbers are not significant.
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The RMIF, Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (RPO), National Stock Theft Forum (NSTF),
other role players and the content of this article limit the extent of livestock theft to three
species, namely: cattle, sheep and goats.1
OVERVIEW OF LIVESTOCK THEFT
The extent of livestock theft when compared to all other serious crimes in South Africa
Table 1: Livestock theft in relation to other crimes in South Africa
Year
Number of serious
crimes
Livestock theft
cases
Livestock theft cases
as a percentage of all
serious crimes
2009/2010
2 121 887
32 380
1.52%
2010/2011
2 071 487
30 144
1.45%
2011/2012
2 016 316
30 949
1.53%
(SAPS, 2011a: 3; SAPS, 2012: 79)
Livestock theft during the period of the three years addressed in Table 1 contributed 1.5 per
cent of all serious crimes in South Africa. When comparing reported livestock theft cases to
other serious crimes it may be argued that livestock theft is not significant. Claiming that
livestock theft is not significant based on simply numbers can have serious implications, as
the economic impact and use of livestock in rural areas are not assessed. Livestock serves a
multipurpose within communal and commercial systems of farming. Although the systems
are comparable, the uses and economic impact of livestock vary considerably across
countries and across regions in a country (Shackleton, Shackleton, Netshiluvhi & Mathabela.,
2005: 127, Jarvis, 1988: 59).
Livestock is the economic backbone within the rural areas and used for milk, manure for
land, meat, has a saving value and, if sold, and pays food school fees, university fees, etc.
When livestock is stolen, the economic activity and harmonious lifestyle of a household or
family is severely stressed in both communal and commercial settings (Khoabane & Black
2009, p. 2, Shackleton et al., 2005: 127, Cousins, 1996: 171172). Commercially livestock
theft has a direct bearing on future economic agricultural activities and in the end threatens
food security of the entire South African population (Anon, 2012: 1). Research regarding the
effect of livestock theft on commercial farmers is, however,non-existing in South Africa.
Where previously people might have stolen predominantly for the pot “potslagting,3 lately
there are groups that have latched onto stock theft as a way of enriching themselves (Goede,
2012: 1, Gouws 2012, Anon, 2008a: 11, Anon, 2008b).
Livestock theft cases reported per year
In Figure 1 below, all the livestock theft cases as per definition in the Stock theft Act No 57
of 1959 is included and the numbers are not limited to those livestock addressed in this
article. The reason being that the number of livestock theft cases reported to the SAPS does
not distinguish the type of livestock stolen. In determining the extent of livestock theft by
only taking into account the number of cases reported is problematic as there are other
variables that also need to be taken into account. This predicament of only taking reported
livestock theft cases into account is highlighted by the fact that Ventersdorp in the North
West Province is currently the police station with the most reported livestock cases in the
country. According to Oosthuizen (2012), this is due to that fact that the theft of poultry is
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abundant in the Ventersdorp district and 80 per cent of the reported cases in this area are
poultry-related.
Figure 1: Number of reported livestock cases4
The data provided in Figure 1 establishes a decline in the number of cases reported since
1994/95. The decline in the number of livestock theft cases follows a similar pattern as most
other serious crimes in South Africa. However, in June 1995 the NSTF was established by
government departments, organisations and persons affected by the crime (Anon, 1995:1).
The establishment, involvement and active role the NSTF played in reducing livestock theft
has not been researched, but the decline may be attributed to the joint efforts of the role
players involved. In Figure 1, the most number of cases, 47 287, was reported in 1994/95 and
the least number of cases, 28 742, was reported in 2005/06. During the period 1994/95 to
2003/04 the number of cases reported on average was 42 832 per year. Since 2004/05, the
number of cases reported declined drastically and the average dropped by 29.2 per cent to 30
317 and stabilised around approximately 30 000 cases per year. Although the linear line in
Figure 1 over the whole period follows a decline, it is obvious that since 2008 there is a
constant increase in the number of livestock theft cases. The number of cases reported cannot
be viewed in isolation as not all crimes are reported and the factor of non-reporting needs to
be addressed.
Non-reporting of cases
In South Africa, it is a trait that a large number of economic crimes are never reported to the
authorities and livestock theft is not an exception. Statistics South Africa reported in 2011
that that 36.3 per cent of stock theft cases was not reported by the victims and in 2012 this
number rose to 40.1 per cent (Statistics South Africa, 2011: 11, Statistics South Africa, 2012:
14).
The non-reporting of stock theft cases by livestock owners can be attributed to various
reasons. Firstly, 31.8 per cent of livestock theft cases are not reported due to a lack to trust in
the capability of the SAPS to recover the stolen stock and or to prosecute the case
successfully. This perception of livestock owners can be understood as only 4 per cent of
victims are informed that an arrest has been made or that stolen livestock has been recovered.
Secondly, 30.2 per cent of livestock owners’ believe that it is not an important enough crime
to report to the authorities. This may be true of small livestock such as chickens, but not of
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larger livestock with a high monetary value and which are addressed in this article. Thirdly,
11.8 per cent of the victims of livestock theft use other methods to resolve the crimes, such as
to report it to local authorities or neighbourhood watch. In poorer rural communities, this has
a high prevalence as there is still a high sense of community justice. Fourthly, in 8.8 per cent
of the cases the SAPS was not available or reachable (Singh, 2005: 43; Burton, Du Plessis,
Leggett, Louw, Mistry & Van Vuuren, 2004: 4; Statistics South Africa, 2012: 53).
Other reasons why commercial farmers do not report livestock theft cases is firstly due to the
fact that livestock in South Africa, with the exception of some stud breeders, is not insured.
Insurance companies either do not provide this type of insurance or if they do provide it, it is
very expensive. The insurance of livestock is not within the scope of this article, however, to
understand the extent of the number of livestock theft cases compared to other property-
related crimes, it must be noted. In the case of most other property-related crimes, the
commodity is insured and in order for the victim to press a claim for damages the case must
be reported to the SAPS, which is not the case with livestock theft that is not insured.
Secondly, there is the fear of fines being imposed on victims of livestock theft, due to the fact
that animals have not been marked in accordance with the requirements of section 7 of the
Animal Identification Act No 6 of 2002 (Department of Agriculture, 2008: 2).5 Livestock
owners are also aware of the fact that to reclaim unidentified livestock is problematic.
Number of livestock stolen per year
The number of reported stolen livestock cases is not the only variable to consider to
determine the extent of livestock theft as the modus operandi of the offenders normally differ
between those stealing for survival (“potslagting” [slaughtering for the pot]) and those for
greed, which is of a more organised nature. The modus operandi results in the number of
animals stolen per case differing from one to several hundred. The case of Van der Vyver v S
(A161/2011) [2012] ZAFSHC 121 (21 June 2012) is a typical example where the accused
was on trial for 57 different livestock theft cases ranging from 1 to 519 head of cattle. The
number of livestock stolen is therefore an important variable to consider in determining the
extent of livestock theft.
Figure 2 shows the extent of the number of livestock stolen per year. These numbers,
contrary to those in Figure 1, only deals with cattle, sheep and goats; the other animals as per
the legal definition are excluded.
Figure 2: Number of livestock stolen
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In Figure 1, the number of livestock cases reported consistently declined since 1994. In
contrast, the numbers of livestock stolen as shown in Figure 2 increased dramatically for the
period 1995/96 to 1997/98. Thereafter it stabilised and started to decline to a low in 2004/05.
The sharp increase from 1995/96 to 1997/98 is attributed to the incorporation of the old
Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei states into the new South Africa in 1994 and
the fact that their statistics became part of a whole in the new South Africa (SAPS, 2000: 6).
From Figure 2 it is evident that since 2004/05 there has been a constant increase in the
number of livestock stolen with an unprecedented sharp increase in 2011/12. The reason for
the increase is not known as there is a variety of variables that may play a role, such as an
improvement in the number of cases reported, the modus operandi of the offenders may have
changed or crime syndicates are highly involved in cattle theft. The fact that it is lucrative to
steal livestock should be borne in mind as livestock does not lose it value as other
commodities do when stolen and this has been the case since medieval times(Ireland, 2002:
318, (Anon, 2012: 1). Livestock does have price variations due to seasonal changes, age etc.,
but it is not like a stolen car or cellphone that loses more than 50 per cent of the value in the
illegal markets.
Comparing the number of cases reported to the number of livestock stolen
The pattern of a rise in the number of livestock stolen and a decline in the number of cases
from 1995 to 1998 has been repeating itself since 2004 (see Figure 3). The reason for a rise in
the number of livestock stolen is not so easily determined Contrary to the fact that the number
of livestock cases declined and indicate a slight increase since 2006, it is not the case with the
number of livestock stolen.
From Figure 2 it is clear that although there is a claim with reference to Figure 1 that stock
theft declined by 6.9 per cent, the number of livestock involved actually steadily increased by
26.4 per cent since 2004/05 to 2011/12 (see Figure 3)
Figure 3: Number of cases reported versus number of livestock stolen
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In Figure 3, the number of cases reported versus the number of livestock stolen since 1995
are compared to determine the extent of livestock theft over a long period. The fact is that the
longitudinal lines in Figure 3 create a false impression that stock theft is declining. From
Figure 4, where only the past 9 years is taken into account, the constant rise of 26.4 per cent
in the number of livestock stolen is even more obvious.
Figure 4: Number of livestock cases reported versus number of livestock stolen
The number of stock stolen compared to the number of cases reported follow two distinct
directions. The number of livestock stolen is rising back to the unprecedented numbers of the
late 1990s but, on the contrary, the number of cases is declining. This inconsistency amongst
the two predominant variables requires interpretation and the only rational assumption is that
the modus operandi of livestock theft has changed. Previously, livestock was predominantly
stolen for survival or “potslagting”, now the modus operandi has changed to a lucrative
economic crime attracting organised crime syndicates. Lately, evidence of organised crime
syndicates became obvious when 160 head of cattle was stolen during five different events
between the end of June 2013 until middle August 2013 in and around the Gauteng province.
The value of the stolen cattle is estimated at a loss of R2.2 million. In all five cases the same
truck was identified at the crime scene by tyre prints and paint on loading pens.6 The ratio of
livestock stolen per case further substantiates the assumption of crime syndicates as the ratio
increased from 4.02 livestock stolen per case in 2002/2003 to 6.58 livestock stolen per case in
2011/2012. Cases that are not reported may have an effect on the number of livestock stolen
per case, it may be argued that in cases where small numbers of livestock is not involved the
case is not reported.
Number of livestock stolen per species since 2007
For many years the numbers of sheep and goats stolen were combined and not indicated
separately in statistics and therefore a longitudinal profile regarding the different species in
question cannot be given. From 2007, the number per species stolen have been provided
separately in statistics and it is therefore possible to provide a telescopic view of the livestock
theft crimes per species in the past 5 years. The number of livestock recovered and the total
loss is also indicated, which provide a glimpse on the efficiency of the police in recovering
stolen livestock. Caution must be taken not to confuse the number of livestock recovered with
the number of arrests made or successful prosecution. It is not a given that when livestock is
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recovered that an offender is apprehended. Stolen livestock is sometimes found abandoned
and it cannot be traced back to a specific offender. In medieval times and in certain parts of
South Africa there was a custom that if the tracks of lost or stolen stock were found near a
homestead or its immediate surrounds, the head of the establishment would be held
accountable for the stolen livestock. This custom was known as the spoor law in South Africa
but today it is considered to be unconstitutional and has been abandoned (Ireland, 2002: 211,
Bennett & Jacobs, 2012: 213).
Figure 5: Number of cattle stolen, recovered and lost
( Stock Theft Unit Head Office Ops, 2012)
In Figure 5, the number of cattle stolen hovered around the 60 000 mark for the first four
years and in 2012 it spiked and reached nearly 70 000, which is a steep rise for a period of
one year.
Noticeable from Figure 5 is that on average for the years in question, 42.95 per cent of cattle
stolen are recovered and 57.05 per cent are lost and never recovered. The rate of recovery is
also much higher for cattle than it is for sheep indicated, as in Figure 6.
Figure 6: Number of sheep stolen, recovered and lost
(Source: Stock Theft Unit Head Office Ops, 2012)
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Contrary to cattle, the steep rise in the number of sheep stolen already occurred in 2008/2009
when the number of stolen sheep had an unprecedented rise of 13 068 from 77 472 in to 90
560 in 2009/2010. This rise in livestock theft can be attributed mainly to the world financial
crisis of 2007/2008 and the sharp increase in sheep meat prices in 2008/2009 (Schutte, 2008:
9).
The numbers in Figure 5, 6 and 7 disclose that of the three species addressed in the article,
the number of sheep stolen is much higher than the other species. This is mainly attributed to
the belief “as dumb as a sheep”. Sheep, contrary to other species, do not make any noises
when disturbed whilst this is not the case with other species; thus an easy object to steal. In
farmer talk sheep is also referred to as “take aways” since they easily fit into the boot of any
vehicle. These factors do have an influence on the recovery rate of sheep which is much
worse than cattle. In the case of sheep stolen, only 23 per cent are recovered and 77 per cent
are lost and never recovered.
Figure 7: Number of goats stolen, recovered and lost
(Source: Stock Theft Unit Head Office Ops, 2012)
The theft of goats is addressed in Figure 7 and goats, like sheep, are easier to steal because of
their small size. The fact that fewer goats are stolen can be attributed to the size of national
herd for goats, which are much smaller than for sheep. Another factor may be that goats make
a lot of noise when caught, contrary to sheep. A trend in Figure 7 that may require further
research is the tendency of goat theft to rise in leap years. This increase and decrease may be
attributed to religious ceremonies, no one knows. The tendency of losses versus recovery for
goats is better than sheep. In the case of goats, 29 per cent are recovered whilst 71 per cent
are lost and never recovered.
The economic impact of livestock theft
In Table 2, the number of animals stolen, recovered and lost is quantified in monetary terms
to indicate the economic impact of stock theft on the agricultural community. The monetary
values in Table 2 are merely a adding of the numbers in Table 3 to get to the total values of
all the livestock affected.
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Table 2: Value of all livestock stolen, recovered and lost
Year
2008/09
2009/10
2010/11
2011/12
Total
stolen
R547 955 600
R619 510 800
R655 814 600
R830 906 600
Total
recovered
R210 710 500
R224 890 800
R250 884 300
R344 271 900
Total loss
R337 245 100
R394 620 000
R404 930 300
R486 634 700
The loss per species is indicated in Table 3. The numbers in Figure 2 are multiplied by the
stock values indicated in Table 4 to get an estimate of the financial losses. It is obvious that
cattle contributes to the highest losses mainly due to their high values whilst sheep on the
other hand number wise are more prone to theft although their financial losses are much
less.
Table 3: Value of livestock stolen, recovered and lost per species
Livestock
Year
2007/08
2008/09
2009/10
2010/11
2011/12
Cattle
Stolen
R391 059 500
R416 024 000
R459 165 000
R484 800 000
R621 099 000
Recovered
R160 309 500
R178 227 000
R187 245 000
R211 664 000
R288 855 000
Loss
R230 750 000
R237 797 000
R271 920 000
R273 136 000
R332 244 000
Sheep
Stolen
R 78 332 000
R 85 219 200
R108 648 000
R117 022 100
R141 675 000
Recovered
R 20 209 000
R 19 792 300
R 23 202 000
R 24 103 300
R 35 353 500
Loss
R 58 123 000
R 65 426 900
R 85 446 000
R 92 918 800
R106 321 500
Goats
Stolen
R 38 564900
R 46 712 400
R 51 697 800
R 53 992 500
R 68 132 600
Recovered
R 12 123 100
R 12 691 200
R 14 443 800
R 15 117 000
R 20 063 400
Loss
R 26 441800
R 34 021 200
R 37 254 000
R 38 875500
R 48 069 200
On a yearly basis during the November meeting of the NSTF, the average monetary value of
livestock is determined, which will be used for the next year to calculate the economic impact
of the crime. These values are a gut feeling predicted on values of mainly female animals but
do not take into account the loss of future breeding herds and genetics. These values are
indicated in Table 4
Table 4: Value of livestock per year
Year
2007/08
2008/09
2009/10
2010/11
2011/12
Cattle
6 500
7 000
7 500
8 000
9 000
Sheep
1 000
1 100
1 200
1 300
1 500
Goats
1 100
1 200
1 400
1 500
1 700
CONCLUSION
The essential role of agriculture in terms of the country’s economy and day to day
functioning is not always fully understood. Agriculture is one of the cornerstones in any
country’s economy and provides for the food security of individual households and countries
globally and addresses poverty alleviation in small-scale communal farming in developing
countries as South Africa. Irrespective of this economic importance the impact of crime on
agricultural farms in South Africa is inadequately researched. One of the reasons for this is an
international tendency, with a bias towards research in urban areas and therefore a total
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neglect of rural areas. Another aspect is the emphasis on rhinoceros poaching, which is a
highly emotional issue as a result of which livestock theft is neglected. It is concluded that
rhinoceros poaching as a frequently mentioned topic in the media populate the mind of the
general public and livestock theft seriously affecting the poorer individual and community
slip away from awareness and become totally forgotten. Food security is easily forgotten by
affluent financial people in cities whilst the livelihood of red meat producers and poor
communities relying on livestock for survival is threatened. The neglect of livestock theft in
the mind of people is not limited to the general public but is also the case within the
academia, criminal justice and the agricultural community as a whole. The author would like
to appeal to academia within penology, criminology, police sciences, security studies, other
criminal justice related sciences, natural sciences and economical sciences areas to realise
livestock theft threatens food security globally and is in need of extensive research.
The following general themes are in need of research. Livestock serves a multipurpose within
communal and commercial systems of farming, these systems are comparable to a certain
extent but the uses and economic impact of livestock vary considerably across countries and
across regions in a country. Limited research has being done on the economic effect of
livestock theft in communal communities but effect of livestock theft on commercial farmers
is, however,non-existing in South Africa. The emotional impact of livestock theft
notwithstanding the economic impact on victims cannot be ignored. The bond between
human and animal is never a pure economic relation and the effect on humans who loose
animals to livestock theft is an excellent research topic for the social sciences. The
establishment, involvement and roles of the social groups in reducing livestock theft have not
been researched. Researching these contributions can established the reasons for the different
directions the trends in cases reported and number of livestock stolen is following. Lately
there are groups that have latched onto stock theft as a way of enriching themselves
indicating the involvement of organised crime in livestock theft. The change in modus
operandi of the offender requires that a study focusing on the profile of the stock thief is long
overdue in South Africa. In South Africa, it is a trait that a large number of economic crimes
are never reported to the authorities and livestock theft is not an exception. Although some
efforts are made to determine the reasons for this phenomenon no-research has been
conducted and it may be established that the real reasons is totally the opposite of current
allegations.
This article sets the stage for possible new research topics within and array of academics
fields and concludes that this research is important for the food security of South Africa.
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__________________
ENDNOTES
1 Chief Executive Officer of the Red Meat Producers Organisation of South Africa.
2 The statement is based on author’s experience within the industry and the extent of reporting livestock theft
within the NSTF.
3 A term used for livestock stolen simply to be slaughtered and eaten immediately.
4 The information used in Figures 1 to 4 are a combination of the following multiple sources: SAPS, 2000,
SAPS, 2009, SAPS, 2011a, SAPS, 2011b & SAPS, 2012.
5 This information gleaned from various discussions with members of the SAPS Stock Theft Units, National
Office North West and Gauteng.
6 Information provided to the author as Chairperson of Gauteng Stock Theft Forum by farmers (who wish to
remain anonymous), investigating police officers and tollgate operators.
... The importance of livestock farming practices and stock theft are neglected by researchers in the field of humanities and related research areas, when compared to other property-related crimes across South Africa (Clack, 2013;Clack, 2018;and Maluleke, 2016) since stock theft may seem to be a minor crime to the public. The existing literature proposes a variety of methods of combating stock theft across South Africa and globally (Maluleke, 2016). ...
... "We seldom receive training but it should be mentioned that we did in-service training concerning the taking of animal DNA samples for the members who never previously attend This ancient crime, stock theft, is proven to be as old as the field of agriculture itself, dating back to 1801, however, limited attention is given to this scourge in the field of humanities, as well as related disciplines, with Criminology and Criminal Justice scholars included rarely paying needed attention to it (Clack, 2013, Clack, 2018Maluleke, 2016), even though it forms an integral part of the South African economy. As a result, this organised crime is growing in South Africa, as highlighted by researchers (Clack, 2013;Doorewaard, 2020;Lombard, 2016;Lombard, Van Niekerk & Maré, 2017;Lombard, van Niekerk, Geyer & Jordaan, 2017;KZN DCSL, 2008;Maluleke, 2014;Maluleke, 2016;Manganyi, Maluleke & Shandu, 2018). ...
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... This was called Ukunyangaza; and the Chief's approval of the proceedings was signified by the fact that he accepted a share of the spoil (Peires, 1994). Moreover, the recorded cases of stock theft in this country can be traced as far back as 1806 as initially indicated and this crime affects the livestock farmers and industries in all nine provinces of South Africa (Clack, 2013, Dall, 2020, Geldenhuys, 2012, Geldenhuys, 2010, Peires, 1994 However, apart from the economic impact, stock theft inflicts a chilling psychological impact on farmers. Livestock owners can get very emotional about the loss of animals as these are living beings, not mere objects (Corrigan, 2019) (inGeldenhuys, 2020). ...
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... This was called Ukunyangaza; and the Chief's approval of the proceedings was signified by the fact that he accepted a share of the spoil (Peires, 1994). Moreover, the recorded cases of stock theft in this country can be traced as far back as 1806 as initially indicated and this crime affects the livestock farmers and industries in all nine provinces of South Africa (Clack, 2013, Dall, 2020, Geldenhuys, 2012, Geldenhuys, 2010, Peires, 1994 However, apart from the economic impact, stock theft inflicts a chilling psychological impact on farmers. Livestock owners can get very emotional about the loss of animals as these are living beings, not mere objects (Corrigan, 2019) (inGeldenhuys, 2020). ...
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