As if the safety risks farmers in South Africa have to deal with aren’t enough, livestock farmers are now facing livestock crime syndicates who are moving more than a R1 billion worth of livestock every year. On average about 182 cattle, 282 sheep and 138 goats are reportedly stolen every day. The reality is that these figures probably represent only 30% of thefts as Statistics South Africa found that more than 70% of stock thefts are never reported, because farmers have little to no trust that the police will be able to recover their animals.
Stock theft is now acknowledged as specialised, organised crime at a scale that is not only destroying the livestock farming community, but also the whole meat industry. Livestock syndicates run as a well oiled machine. Stock is stolen by runners who are paid as little as R500 per night to drive or run the stock to “fly by night” farms where they are hidden and rebranded and then added once again into the production chain where they are sold at auctions to farmers, livestock speculators and abattoirs. Farmers take all the precautions they can by appointing security companies, driving patrols themselves and marking animals with a registered brandmark or tattoo to avoid disputes if some of their stock is found later on. However, farmers are increasingly in situations where the thieves are caught in the act and the farmer have to face a confrontation to protect their land, stock and themselves.
During December 2022 the Sunday Times reported of a stock theft suspect that was fatally wounded during a shoot-out with members of a security company on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. According to reports Magma Security and Investigation had received information about eight people planning to steal cattle in the Highflats area.
The suspects were spotted driving on the N2 highway and as security personnel tried to flag them down, the suspects opened fire and attempted to run the security company vehicles off the road. According to the Sunday Times a gun battle ensued and the suspects crashed their vehicle. A 9mm pistol was recovered and four chopped-up carcasses were found on the back of the vehicle. Apparently the area has been plagued by an increase in stock theft over the past few months with cattle being slaughtered and transported to other areas.
The reality is that more often than not, the farmer will be outnumbered when they find themselves in a confrontation with stock thieves. Firearms Guardian is of strong opinion that farmers who have little to no choice in protecting their farmstock and also their own lives as well as the lives of their staff should be able to do so whilst using extreme caution and whilst staying within the compounds of the law.
“Firearm owners must very quickly sum up whether his/her or other people’s lives are in extreme and immediate danger. The biggest risk is to make the wrong determination because if the danger of attack is not really life threatening you might possibly be successfully prosecuted for murder if you kill the attacker. For instance, if the attacker can be put out of action without the use of a firearm, that lesser action must be followed.” – Henk Nolte, director of Firearms Guardian
Nolte’s advice to firearm owners is to be aware of the laws pertaining to the use of a firearm and even as a law-abiding firearm owner to make use of services that will make sure you avoid unnecessary court battles should you find yourself in a position where you must defend yourself or even when accidents in the use of a firearm occurs.
Should a firearm owner have to make use of a firearm in an effort to safeguard him or herself whilst keeping livestock from being stolen, whether it be out of self-defence or even perhaps in the case of an accidental discharge the odds that he or she will need legal assistance afterwards are very high.
Firearms Guardian is a ground-breaking legal protection insurance package for lawfully armed citizens. Whether for self-defence, accidental discharge, hunting accidents including prosecution relating to the Firearms Control Act, we make sure that you are covered with pre-eminent legal protection.
Firearms Guardian offers you:
- Our team of expert lawyers are available 24/7. That includes after hours and weekends. Crime does not have office hours, neither do we.
- Comprehensive and powerful Legal Protection and Liability Cover for you and your immediate family.
- Cover includes firearm self-defence, accidental discharge, hunting accidents, sport shooting and more, as well as Firearms Control Act related prosecution.
- Legal Assistance and representation up to R300 000 per case/per claim.
- Liability cover for firearm damages up to R300 000 per annum.
- Legal advice and assistance by over 2 500 top practicing lawyers. Nationwide.
- Lawyers are utilised in their areas of expertise.
- Legal representation in both the High and Magistrate’s Courts nationwide.
- All Firearms Guardian lawyers have more than 10-year practical experience. Only practicing lawyers are used. We do not use paralegals.
- Bail payments up to R5 000 per incident.
According to Nolte the above coverage is based on very thorough research and experience. He says that although legal costs are often unpredictable, Firearms Guardian is convinced that they are sufficient to adequately assist a Firearms Guardian policyholder.