Stock Theft Cases Worry Karas Farmers

COMMERCIAL farmers in the Karas region have lost trust in the police because of the low success rate in concluding reported stock theft cases.

This was revealed at a meeting farmers convened with the local police and judicial officers at Keetmanshoop on Wednesday to discuss the escalating stock theft in the region.

Farmer Kobus Bekker, who chaired the meeting, said the low success rate had resulted in farmers not reporting stock theft cases any longer.

Because of this, Bekker said cases of livestock valued at N$1,5 million stolen from five commercial farms in the region, had gone unreported.

“Farmers no longer report stock theft cases as they have lost faith in the police. Cases are being reported, but still no investigations are carried out,” said Bekker. Bekker suggested that at least two police officers tasked with the responsibility of investigating only stock theft cases be stationed at each police station across the region.

He claimed complainants of stock theft cases are often given excuses, indicating that police cannot attend to their complaint because of a lack of transport. Bekker further proposed that two vehicles be allocated to each police station. The farmers also complained that repeated stock theft offenders are freed on bail only to steal their livestock again.

Senior Magistrate Piet Bekker who attended yesterday’s meeting, said a collective effort is needed to combat stock theft, which he described as “complicated”.

Acknowledging the delay in some court cases, Bekker said nowadays there are more cases courts have to deal with due to the overall escalation of crime in the country.

“The delay of court cases is not unique to Namibia. It was also the case before independence. It is just that nowadays there are more (police case) dockets than in those days because of the increasing crime rate,” Bekker remarked, adding government is aware and concerned, and continuously seeks for solutions to address the increasing number of court cases.

Bekker cited inexperienced judicial officials and lack of human resources as some of the contributing factors to the dragging out of court cases.

“Experienced judicial officials are leaving the public service for greener pastures or because of retirement, but we with the experience, continuously guide newbies to master their duties,” Bekker added. Figures revealed by prosecutor Pieter Smit show that the Keetmanshoop Magistrate’s Court in a year deals with an estimated 2 000 criminal matters.

The Police’s Stock Theft Unit commander, Godfried Kauhanda, revealed that during 2014, 35 suspects were convicted on stock theft charges and sentenced.

Explaining that some complainants fail to turn up at court when summoned to testify, Kauhanda said this had led to the acquittal of many stock theft suspects in court due to lack of evidence.

Police deputy Commissioner Rudolf Isaak said the police will consider the suggestions of staffing the stock theft investigations unit at each police station.

Source : The Namibian