Sheep kept safe in a kraal.
Besides following the law to make it easier for the police to catch and prosecute thieves, the National Stock Theft Prevention Unit gives the following advice on ways in which farmers can protect themselves against this crime.
Make sure fences and gates are in a proper condition and employ somebody to daily patrol and fix fences where necessary. Loading ramps in paddocks or on farms away from direct supervision should also be kept locked or obstructed to prevent stock thieves from making use of them.
Keep Animals Away from Public Roads
Animals that graze or are kept near public roads are more vulnerable, so take extra measures to protect these animals. Appoint a shepherd to look after them or get a safety device that will alert you when your herd start to act strangely – with stock theft, they will, for example, run in an attempt to get away from the perpetrators.
When buying new land, try to buy land near your residence so that it is easier to know what is happening on your land.
Absence makes your farm an easier target.
Be Aware of Strangers
Make sure you know everybody on the farm and keep a record of visitors. Do not allow loitering or unemployed people to settle on your property. Strangers entering the farm or visiting labourers should obtain your permission before entering the property.
When employing new people, check their backgrounds. Find out why they have left their previous jobs and enquire from the SAPS whether they have a criminal record.
Get the Community on Your Side
Eastern Cape, local women carrying firewood as they walk past the herdsman with his sheep.
Make the whole community on your farm, from the workers to their dependents, aware of the dangers of sharing information about on-farm activities and get them on your side by giving them a vested interest in the safety of the farm, by, for example, allowing their stock to mix and graze with your stock. Everybody should be on the lookout for any kind of irregularities that could jeopardise the safety of anyone on the farm.
Vary farm activities to prevent informants from communicating farm activities outside the farm. So do not count your animals at exactly the same time each day and try to drive different routes when you check up on the animals.
Be watchful, particularly during full moon, weekends, at the end or beginning of a month, the festive season or during periods that you know from personal experience when stock thefts occur.
Report immediately to your stock theft unit when animal speculators and hide bone buyers or livestock dealers are active in your area and keep a proper record of prospective livestock buyers as soon as you enter negotiations.
By Glenneis Kriel