Farmers frustrated by stock theft… 25 cases reported in six months

Home National Farmers frustrated by stock theft… 25 cases reported in six months
Farmers frustrated by stock theft… 25 cases reported in six months

OTJIMBINGWE – Farmers in the Karibib and Otjimbingwe areas are losing millions of dollars through stock theft and poaching by repeat offenders.


The police are hamstrung by a lack of capacity and resources to effectively avert the rustlers.


Farmers are now saying the justice system is failing them as cases are never finalised and criminals often get bail quickly to continue with their million-dollar illegal trade.

Residents and cattle owners of the problematic areas on Saturday met with the Erongo police commissioner Nikolaus Kupembona and his delegation to consult the growing concern of stock theft.


According to the Erongo region’s anti-stock theft unit commander Jeffrey Urib, at least 25 cases of stock theft and illegal hunting have been reported at farms around the two towns. Nineteen of those were reported at the Otjimbingwe police station.


“The thieves go as far as trying to cover up the brandmark of farmers with new ones in order to sell the stolen animals. In some cases, the animals are slaughtered, and the meat is sold to kapana traders and some butcheries in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay,” he said.


“My cattle were stolen five times in the last 10 years. I caught the criminals but instead of serving time, they are given bail every time just to commit the same crime again. I went to court three times and the case just ended without any communication,” one of the farmers said.


According to the farmer, he eventually found his cattle at an auction in Okahandja.


Pieter Du Plessis from Auxabes shared the same sentiments, saying he has been farming since 2015 and for the last nine months, he lost 18 cows valued at N$200 000.

Another farmer lost 77 cattle in 2017 and to date does not know what happened with his case nor did he get any of his cattle back.

Daniel Uirab, suspects some of the illegal immigrants from Angola who work on the farms could also be part of a stock theft syndicate.


“These people are undocumented and we feel pity for them. As a result, we gave them a place to stay. However, they ended up leaving in the middle of the night, only for us to hear months later from our neighbour that they stole at another farm,” Uirab said.


Community knows the thieves


According to an Otjimbingwe farmer Meester Urikhob, some of the settlement’s residents know who the culprits are and sometimes work with them.


“Maybe people are scared but we know it is the ones who have horses and donkeys that are busy with stock theft. We all know who owns those animals. It is time that we speak up as our farmers are losing out, Uirab said.


He, however, says the justice system is failing the farmers as the police are doing everything they can to arrest the culprits.


According to him, the police are not at fault but need more manpower and vehicles to investigate stock theft in their area.


“We sometimes try so hard to catch the guys but they are tipped off by people among us that the police are coming,” the farmer said.


Gerrie van Zyl, who also farms in the area, expressed concern over evidence collection from crime scenes by the police. He is now asking that police officers be properly trained.

Rosina Naris indicated that she wants to become a police reservist to help fight stock theft.


“ A reservist needs to have a stable income and it would be better if I can just provide information to the police that could lead to the arrest of the criminals.”

Wikus Estherhuizen, suggested that she rather become an informant so that farmers can pay her for information.


24-hour police station


The community appealed for the operating hours of the Otjimbingwe police station to be extended.

“Currently the station operates from 08h00 to 17h00 Monday to Friday but crime takes place during weekends and evidence will be destroyed if we wait until Monday to report crimes,” Estherhuizen said.


According to him, Otjimbingwe has become a hotspot for crime while the police only have one vehicle to fight the violation of law there.


“They are not visible and up to standard. Sometimes we have to wait very long for them and it’s a fact that if we don’t investigate ourselves, we can forget about any success in terms of our cases,” he said.


Kupembona responded to the concerns of the farmers, saying the meeting was a fact-finding mission to seek a way forward to mostly fight stock theft and illegal hunting.


“That is why we are here, to organise ourselves and render support to each other in this daunting task. We must find a way forward where residents, farmers and police can collectively work together.


He added that they will also consult with the Judiciary in a follow-up meeting so that they can also address the challenges they experienced.


“We are looking into your request that the police station hours be extended. This is an in-house issue as police despite closing at 17h00 need to be on standby,” said the commissioner.


He also acknowledges the transport challenge but said nothing stops them to make use of private transport offered by a public member to render service.