April 29 2010 at 08:35AM
By Alex Campbell
Twenty-five stolen cattle were found with their legs slashed, unable to walk and needing to be euthanised, 25km from their farm south of Joburg.
The cows were lying in tall grass in Lawley, near Lenasia, police said.
They had panga-style gashes above their knees, said Colonel Johan Scott, provincial co-ordinator for stock theft policing. Five of them were calves.
The 25 crippled cows and 65 others were reported stolen to the police early yesterday. Fifty-seven of the cows were retrieved unscathed and eight are still missing.
Jaco Taute, who owns the cattle, watched as workers dragged the crippled stock onto an Isuzu pickup truck so that they could be taken to be slaughtered. One bull tried to run away but was reduced to crawling on its knees.
"This is plain cruelty," said Taute, who runs a farm in Elandsfontein called Aeterno Investments. He said he now wondered whether he should continue running his farm, which his father bought 20 years ago.
"The suffering these cows must go through - it's not worth it." The mutilated cattle were worth R200 000.
Police and farmers said this was part of a spate of stock theft, allegedly by Lesotho nationals who live in squatter camps in Lenasia and Lawley.
Lesotho was identified in December as a hotspot for stock theft in southern Africa.
"They cut (the cows) into portions and then they sell the meat to squatter camp dwellers," said Warrant Officer Seremi Sello, who is with the Stock Theft Unit based in Vereeniging.
There have been around 15 cases of theft in Gauteng in the two years since the Stock Theft Unit began, Sello added.
Farmer Sarel Cilliers, 41, said he had to close down his 362-hectare farm in Jachfontein after losing nearly R1 million in cattle and about 160 sheep to stock theft during the past year.
Thefts happened almost every week, Cilliers said. He had bought electric fences and lights to keep the thieves away.
"Nothing helped. Nothing."
Cilliers plans to continue living on the farm, but will operate an electrical business instead of farming.
Police are offering a R50 000 reward for any information leading to arrests. Witnesses can call 071 603 9032.
This article was originally published on page 6 of The Star on April 29, 2010