FARMERS in the midlands are losing millions of rands in farming implements, allegedly stolen and sold as scrap metal.
KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) president, Robin Barnsley, said farmers have suffered great losses from “metal thieves who come to farms driving trucks and steal any metal objects they can get their hands on”.
Barnsley said the thieves enter the farms and load their trucks without fear of prosecution. “Irrigation equipment, tractor engine blocks, copper and steel cables, fencing material, telephone and electric cables are some of the things that are being stolen …”
Koos Marais of Kwanalu’s security desk said a committee has been formed in an attempt to curb the crime. “Different stakeholders, including the SAPS, are involved in a project to fight against metal theft and we also have contacts with the metal dealers who assist us to catch the thieves.” He said some suspects have been arrested, but the thefts continue as prices of metal products increase.
Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram confirmed that metal theft is a new crime phenomenon. Some police officers are involved in a special non-ferrous metal project focussing on metal and aluminium products.
Other businesses affected by metal theft include Telkom, Eskom and the construction industry. It is alleged that metal frames and water pipes in newly constructed buildings, including low- cost houses, are stripped to be sold to scrap metal dealers.
Some of the affected areas are Crammond, Boston and Dargle.
Marais appealed to landowners to report suspicious vehicles with scrap metal to the police.