A community tired of the ongoing stock theft in the area apparently took the law into its own hands this past weekend by killing two suspected stock thieves.
Police also came under fire when they rescued a third suspected stock thief from the hands of the community.
Residents of Kubusi, a community just outside Stutterheim in the Eastern Cape, attacked the three suspected cattle thieves on Sunday when they arrived by taxi from the Strand at around 12:00,
Capt. Khaya Tonjeni, provincial police spokesperson, says when police arrived there, members of the community were harsh with a man with two buckets full of raw meat.
According to Tonjeni, the police rescued the man from the hands of the angry people and he was arrested. The people were not satisfied with it and pelted the policemen with stones. A vehicle’s windows were smashed in this incident.
“After the man was arrested, the police heard two others running away while they were being chased and assaulted.”
The bodies of the two men, aged 28 and 30 respectively, were later found in Mngxuma, near Kubusi. The 30-year-old man was set on fire along the Kubusi River.
A photo of the charred body was circulated on social media with the caption: “The dogs that steal our cattle must die.”
Lt.Gen. Eastern Cape Police Commissioner Liziwe Ntshinga strongly condemned the actions of the community.
“We understand your frustrations about the increasing stock thefts. We consider it a very serious light, because it is about the theft of the livelihoods of commercial and subsistence farmers, ”says Ntshinga.
• Meanwhile, Greg Miles, a farmer in the Stutterheim district, has expressed concern about three convicted stock thieves who may soon be released on the special parole system for low-risk prisoners to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country’s prisons.
They were arrested last year shortly after the body of a suspected sheep thief was found on Miles’ farm. The deceased was apparently with the three sheep thieves on Miles’ farm in February, but got lost and went missing.
His decomposed body was found on a remote part of the farm after an extensive search. The other three men were sentenced in February this year to three years in prison.
However, Miles says he was at the group’s men’s parole hearing last Thursday, where he heard the chances are good that they will be released soon.
“I can not believe it. The people are fistfighting for the fight against stock theft and now they are being released. It complicates matters for the farmers, the losses are enormous, ”says Miles.
According to the police’s crime statistics, more than 100 stock theft cases have been reported annually over the past five financial years.
Farmers in the district told Netwerk24 last year that these stock theft numbers are in fact much higher, because many farmers have lost confidence in the police and no longer report the cases.
Ntshinga said in a statement on Monday that the police’s stock theft units in the province are working tirelessly and are hopeful that their efforts with the support of the community will be successful.
She warned people against buying stolen meat and asked that possible suspects be handed over to the police.
“Every suspect deserves the opportunity to prove his or her innocence before a magistrate.”