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Stock theft must be escalated, treated as serious economic crime – Cele

Police Minister Bheki Cele addressed issues relating to farm attacks and stock theft and crime issues in general, in the Free State.

Police Minister Bheki Cele held a rural safety imbizo in the Bethlehem community hall on 12 November 2020 to discuss the issue of farm attacks in the area. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Police Minister Bheki Cele on Thursday said stock theft must be escalated and treated as a serious economic crime.

He had been speaking in the Free State town of Bethlehem where he led a ministerial rural safety imbizo.

The imbizo is a follow-up to a meeting he held with farmers following the murder of Paul Roux farmer Brendin Horner several weeks ago.

The imbizo began with farmers fielding questions to the minister and his entourage.

Some say attacks had escalated, claiming that since last month, more than 10 farmers had been murdered in the Free State alone.

“One of the problems we struggle with is when people make complaints at the local police station, they just get sometimes written into the occurrence book.”

Dring his visit a few weeks ago, Cele received a memorandum from farmers demanding among things that a national task team be established to investigate farm attacks and the involvement of police in stealing from farmers.

Cele said they view farm attacks and stock theft in a very serious light.

“This is an economic sabotage. This is an economic crime. It is not an ordinary crime.”

Cele said he would return to the Free State soon as it appeared that criminals were now migrating to the province.

At the same time, police are set to do an audit of livestock in the Free State and expect farmers to produce proof that they purchased their stock.

Cele addressed issues relating to farm attacks and stock theft and crime issues in general.

He called on all those in attendance to come together to address matters that were raised by farmers in his previous engagement with affected parties.

The minister also appealed to farmers to co-operate with authorities when they do their work.

He said stock theft must be classified as an economic crime and those responsible must be brought to book.

Between January and August last year, it’s estimated that about 4,000 animals were stolen - with an estimated value of R14 million.

WATCH: 'Why do the lives of black farmers not matter?' - Cele holds Free State imbizo

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