Coffin farmer battles stock theft

By Malibongwe Dayimani

Despite burying a black coffin halfway in the ground to send a ghoulish statement to stock thieves, Stutterheim cattle farmer Frans Kruger has lost two cattle while his neighbours lost dozens more.

STOP MEASURE: The coffin on a Stutterheim cattle farmer’s property is not deterring criminals Picture: BHONGO JACOB

Thieves ignored the coffin and took two of his cattle in November, a month after Kruger planted it upright in his veld and threatened to shoot and bury thieves in it.

This week alone, Kruger said his neighbours lost cattle worth thousands of rand.

“I have done everything I could but they just won’t stop and what I want to emphasise is that the thieves are not only targeting white farmers but everyone who owns livestock. Not so long ago they hit my neighbouring farmers, Mthandazo Hewu and Reverend Edward Tafeni.”

Kruger said 50 more head of cattle have been stolen from his farm and those of his neighbours since the coffin went into the ground in October 2017.

He said 110 cattle had been stolen in his farming area in the year ending in January this year.

Kruger believes a well-organised group of thieves are targeting Stutterheim farmers.

“When four suspects were arrested at Frankfurt, I went there with photographs of shoeprints and compared them to their shoes and they matched 100% but the police told me that such evidence would not stand in court.

“I’m not blaming the police. They have a tough job because they have to catch the suspects in the act or link them by DNA, but I feel like more should be done by the Justice Department.”

Kruger believed the thieves that struck at his farm last week were the same group of four who were released on R300 bail by the court.

“The people who are stealing from me are not the villagers next to me. These are good people and we have a long and great relationship together. It is a syndicate.”

King William’s Town police spokeswoman Captain Siphokazi Mawisa confirmed that three stock-theft cases were opened by Kruger following the spate of theft at his 900-hectare farm on the N6.

Mawisa said a 30-year-old was arrested in October and appeared at the Zwelitsha Magistrate’s Court. He was granted bail of R500 and will appear again on February 27.

Mawisa said two suspects were arrested in connection with a November case but the case was provisionally withdrawn pending DNA results. Mawisa said there were no suspects arrested in connection with the third case. — malibongwed@dispatch.co.za

-DispatchLIVE

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