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Brazen stock thieves foiled by alert farmers in Mpumalanga

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Tulani Ngwenya 

Nelspruit, Mpumalanga – A cunning attempt by alleged stock thieves to conceal a stolen cattle cows with firewood was thwarted by vigilant farmers in Boschpoort Road, Belfast on Sunday November 26, 2023 at approximately 13:00, according to a media statement issued by the office of the Provincial Commissioner in Mpumalanga.

The farmers, noticing a suspicious-looking vehicle in their vicinity, promptly raised the alarm, alerting law enforcement to the potential criminal activity.

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Upon police arrival, approximately four suspects reportedly fled the scene, leaving only the driver to be apprehended. A thorough search of the vehicle loaded with firewood uncovered a recently slaughtered cow concealed beneath the logs.

The arrested suspect, identified as Phumlani Mice Nkosi (23), allegedly failed to provide a credible explanation for the concealed cow and could not prove ownership. Consequently, Nkosi was arrested for possession of suspected stolen property. Further investigations revealed that the cow had been stolen from a nearby farm.

Nkosi appeared before the Belfast Magistrate’s Court the following Monday. The court remanded him in custody, postponing his case to Monday, December 4, 2023.

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Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela, the Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, commended the collaboration between community members and the police in the area. General Manamela urged farmers and communities at large to bolster security measures, emphasising the need for increased vigilance as criminal activities tend to escalate during the approaching festive season.

The incident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of community-police partnerships in curbing criminal activities, particularly as rural areas face heightened risks of stock theft during this time of the year. The swift response by the farmers and law enforcement demonstrates the power of community watchfulness in maintaining the safety and security of rural regions.

Meanwhile, in a significant victory against stock theft, the Ventersdorp Magistrates’ Court sentenced Sthembiso Ronald Molaba (31) and Simon Koatsa (25) to eight- and six-year imprisonment, respectively, on Monday, November 20, 2023. The accused faced charges related to stock theft and the possession of presumably stolen cattle. Additionally, they were declared unfit to possess firearms under Section 103 of the Firearms Control Act, 2000 (Act No. 60 of 2000).

The convictions stem from an incident reported on June 19, 2021, when information about the brand marking of suspected stolen cattle at a community kraal in Ga-Motlala village, Ventersdorp, prompted a swift response from law enforcement, investigations revealed that the cattle were en route to being sold to a buyer.

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Police discovered 11 Bronsmara cattle inside the cattle press with new brand marks. At the scene, five suspects were arrested and cattle worth R106 000 were recovered and returned to their rightful owners. The case against two of the accused was withdrawn, while the other passed away.

Major General Suzette Pretorius, the District Commissioner of Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, commended the law enforcement members for their efficiency and dedication, which resulted in the arrest and subsequent sentencing of the accused.

“We commend the members for their swift response and hard work that led to the arrest and sentencing of the accused. This sends a clear message that stock theft will not be tolerated, and those involved will face the full consequences of their actions,” she stated.

The successful resolution of this case not only brings justice to the victims of stock theft but also serves as a stern warning to those engaged in illegal activities involving livestock, the North West Province continues its commitment to combating rural crimes and safeguarding the livelihoods of farmers and communities.

The sentencing sends a strong message that the legal system is unwavering in its pursuit of justice for victims of stock theft. The North West Province remains vigilant in the fight against rural crimes, and law enforcement will continue working tirelessly to maintain the safety and security of its residents.

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