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Five police officials and two animal stockbrokers were arrested in Bloemfontein and Ladybrand for stock theft. This is according to a press release by the Hawks. The arrest was made by the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation in the Free State assisted by the South African Police Service (SAPS) Tactical Response Team in Bloemfontein and general detectives. This during the first phase of a major case investigation aimed at disrupting corruption and stock theft in the Free State.

These arrests originate from an incident that took place in October 2020 where Brendin Horner was murdered in Senekal. The minister of police visited the eastern Free State where farmers made allegations against police officials allegedly involved in stock theft. In a joint press release by Free State Agriculture (FSA), the organisations note that the request for investigation was made by Herkie Viljoen, chairperson of the Bethlehem Control Room.

A multidisciplinary task team was established by the Hawks to investigate these allegations which led to the arrest of police officials and animal stockbrokers. During the arrest of two stockbrokers, police also discovered two unlicensed firearms. The suspects are expected to appear before the Ladybrand Magistrate Court where they will be facing charges of stock theft, defeating the administration of justice and perjury. The stockbrokers will face additional charges of possession of unlicensed firearms.

Francois Wilken, the president of FSA says that the arrests are as a result of information obtained from farming communities such as the Bethlehem Control Room contained in a document handed over to the minister of police. This information was also handed over directly to the Hawks during a meeting of the RPO’s Free State Livestock Theft Forum in collaboration with FSA and the farming community as well as other SAPS divisions involved in the investigations. – Ursula Human, AgriOrbit