'I've seen the stock theft figures, it's hell' - Bheki Cele tells farmers
Police minister Bheki Cele wants better auditing of livestock and has vowed to crack the whip on crooked cops during a crime imbizo with farmers in the Free State.
“I've seen the stock theft figures, it's hell. I don't know what sheep have done because they are stealing sheep. To me, this is economic sabotage and it's not an ordinary crime,” Cele said.
Cele was addressing farmers and residents at a ministerial rural safety imbizo in Bethlehem on Thursday.
In attendance were Hawks head Gen Godfrey Lebeya, deputy national commissioner Gen Sehlahle Fannie Masemola and head of crime intelligence Peter Jacobs. Cele said defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula had also sent representatives from her office.
The departments of justice, state security, defence, home affairs and the police were part of a task team looking into farm attacks in SA, he said.
Cele returned to the town after being asked to respond to a report handed to him by concerned farmers from Senekal, Paul Roux and surrounds. Their challenges included stock theft — and they named police officers allegedly involved in crimes and cited failures of the justice system.
The minister told the crowd that the involvement of police officers in criminal activities should be investigated and “reported back as facts”.
“If you chose not to wear blue, we will give you orange. You can't have both,” he said.
This thing of withdrawing cases because police did not do their job must come to an end.Bheki Cele
Cele said allegations about police officers having “good herds of cattle” should also be investigated. He said the officers should be able to provide receipts for their livestock.
At some point there also needed to be some form of auditing of livestock, so that everyone could give “proper account of the stock they own”, he said.
Cele said laws about abattoirs had to be tightened to avoid stolen animals being slaughtered. “We will have to find out where the animals are going and shut the market.”
He said it had been found in many cases that parolees were involved in farm attacks.
There needed to be a better working relationship between the police and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), he added.
“If the prosecutor says, 'I don't have enough', you go back to the investigator and say, 'Close the gaps' - instead of saying, 'Go home, criminals. Police did not do their job.' Those days are gone, we are working as a chain now.
“This thing of withdrawing cases because police did not do their job must come to an end.”
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