SOUTH AFRICA - South Africa's National Livestock Theft Prevention Forum (NSTPF) has said that too many cases of livestock theft are going unreported, meaning that the crime cannot be policed properly.
Statistics South Africa reported in 2011 that 36.3 per cent of stock theft cases were not reported by the victims and in 2012, this number rose to 40.1 per cent and in 2013 it increased drastically to 63 per cent.
The 2014 victims of crime survey did not evaluate this phenomenon, however a report by Lombaard (2014) found that 75 per cent of sheep theft in the Free State Province is not reported.
NSTPF say the non-reporting of stock theft cases by livestock owners can be attributed to various reasons according to Statistics South Africa. Firstly, 31.8 per cent of livestock theft cases are not reported due to a lack of trust in the capability of the police to recover the stolen stock and/or to prosecute the case successfully.
Secondly, 30.2 per cent of livestock owners believe that it is not an important enough crime to report to the authorities. This refers to small numbers that are stolen (one or two sheep etc).
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. Fourthly, in 8.8 per cent of the cases the police were not available or reachable.
NSTPF said that although producers have the right to decide themselves whether to report the crime, they should bear in mind that the resources allocated by the police to each region depend on the number of crimes, such as the number of livestock theft units, and the number of staff, vehicles, and equipment.
The organisation urged all livestock producers not to hesitate in reporting livestock theft cases as this is the only way to ensure that a better criminal justice system is provided. Non-reporting will only cause the situation to get even worse in terms of police reaction time.
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