The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has noted with shock and concern the rise of stock theft cases in the province.
This follows the release of crime statistics by the Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele, last Thursday.
The statistics indicated a worrying upward trend of stock theft in some parts of the province, which has affected both communal and commercial farmers.
According to statistics released, high numbers of reported stock theft cases were registered in Bergville, Dannhauser, Impendle, Utrecht, Taylor's Halt and other parts of KZN.
While the department has in recent years been able to intensify efforts to curb any rapid increase in stock theft by rolling out comprehensive animal branding programmes, it is clear that said more still needs to be done in order to stamp out these acts of criminality within the province.
Currently, the department -- under its Veterinary Services component -- is hard at work in various districts, assisting communal farmers to brand their livestock and also to get authentic permits as both contingency steps meant to easily assist in identifying stolen stock and to act as a deterrence for potential theft.
The incessant rise in stock theft requires all stakeholders to work together in ensuring that all efforts to alleviate this menace are coordinated on a national, provincial, local and even communal level.
"While the department has largely been able to conscientise farmers at a societal level about various modes of protective measures to exercise in order to circumvent theft, the ball is also in the law enforcement agencies' court, who are charged with the responsibility to fight crime, to accelerate the speed in which they approach this problem.
"Stock theft requires all affected parties such as commercial farmers, communal farmers, livestock associations and farmer organisations, the government, security and crime combating clusters in the police, including intelligence interventions to form a united front to beat this crime," the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said in a statement.
Farmers are also urged to contact local Agricultural offices to get more information on livestock branding and also report cases of stock theft to the nearest police station as soon as they happen.