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Agriculture in Mpumalanga: Police also responsible for protecting economy and job opportunities

The FF Plus in Mpumalanga has sent an official letter to the MEC for Safety, Security and Liaison, Vusi Shongwe, requesting him to step in and urgently address the ongoing illegal activities of livestock and harvest theft in the province.

The incessant theft of products is a great cause for concern seeing as the macadamia, avocado, citrus and timber industries lose an estimated R340 million every year due to theft.

Every year during harvest time, producers are harassed by armed syndicates that unlawfully profit from their harvests. Mpumalanga yields 50% and 30% of South Africa's macadamia and avocado harvests respectively and provides work for 19 000 permanent and temporary employees.

The police's intelligence reports indicate that up to ten groups of heavily armed gangs will target a single producer at a time. They then steal up to 20 tonnes of that producer's product in one night.

It appears as if the profits and risks associated with such raids are more rewarding for these gangs than committing transit heists.

Producers and security firms are at their wit's end and seem to have no defence against the looting.

Reports also indicate that even when individual suspects are apprehended, case dockets disappear and police officers are often unhelpful. Farmers are also frequently injured during these raids.

This lawlessness puts Mpumalanga's local economy in a serious financial predicament and leads to great job losses.

Producers are now forced to use the profits they make to upgrade their security and mechanise their farms in an attempt to improve control on their farms a well as to prevent trespassing and internal theft.

The FF Plus has requested Shongwe so immediately engage with the police in order to draw up a plan of action for the upcoming harvest season with the aim of helping farmers and security firms maintain law and order.

 

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