Thieves brand animals to cover up


Forensic cops from Pretoria were called in to determine the true ownership of 19 heads of cattle on Thursday, 22 September.
The Stock Theft Unit from Bethal summonsed the police’s Forensic Science Services to the Weltevreden Farm in the Leandra district to examine the authenticity of the branding marks on suspected stolen cattle.
They concluded that 11 animals do in fact belong to the original owner, Danie Saaiman of Weltevreden Farm.
Their expertise was required as the animals were branded several times in what appears to be an attempted to cover up Danie’s original brand mark.
The repeated rebranding caused excessive scarring and open sores on the left hind quarters of each animal.
Capt. Solomon Modisane and Capt. Indhrensen Naidoo shaved off the hair and scabs from the hides and then measured the various brand iron marks which they then compared to that of the original branding tool.
Capt. Louis Fourie, commander of the Stock Theft Unit at Bethal, on Thursday accompanied the suspected stock thief and his wife from a nearby farm to Weltevreden Farm just outside Leandra along the road to Ogies.
The cattle were stolen in August off two farms in the Leandra district.
Eight of the stolen cattle belongs to Bart Harmse. Capt. Fourie recently spotted five of these stolen animals at a livestock auction in Sundra.
The animals were confi scated and the seller’s farm in Leandra district searched.
More animals with similar excessive marks were found on the farm.
According to Fourie the “suspect” claims to be unaware of the cattle being stolen, saying that the animals were legitimately bought at livestock auctions and in private sales.
The branding was apparently the work of a Mozambican employee.
“We will fi rst follow up all the leads before making arrests,” said Fourie.
The stolen heads of cattle are valued at R7 000 each.
“Stock theft cases are complex and it is therefore essential to get all the facts and evidence perfectly in order before pursuing a court ruling,” Fourie said.
Stock theft is considered a priority crime because of its huge impact on the economy. – Arisja Misselhorn.



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