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Farm workers jailed for stock theft

Staff Reporter

The Rouxville Magistrates Court has sentenced two farm workers to 12 years imprisonment each after they were convicted of stock theft.

Magistrate Johannes Moeng sentenced Ephraim Thekisho and Lehlohohonolo Lichaena for stealing 256 sheep from their employer and two neighbouring farms between May and November 2014.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) regional spokesperson Phaladi Shuping said in a statement the two were employed at a farm in Smithfield while the owner of the farm was staying at another farm.

He said their employer would only come to the farm after a few days to see if everything was okay.

The owner together with neighbouring farmers would count their sheep once a week or sometimes once in two weeks.

“They realised that some of their sheep were missing and they reported the matter to the police,” said Shuping.

“Police embarked on investigations and they found out that Thekisho and Lechaena were responsible for the theft of the sheep at the three farms.

“Thekisho and Lechaeana were working with William Makgalane from Bloemfontein.

“They would slaughter the sheep and then inform Makgalane who would drive from Bloemfontein to Smithfield to buy the slaughtered sheep . . .”

On the day of the arrest, Makgalane was found with nine slaughtered sheep just outside Bloemfontein.

Thekisho was found with R4 000 cash he got from Makgalane for the sheep.

Makgalane pleaded guilty and he was handed a suspended sentence.

“Makgalane testified against Thekisho and Lechaena and his testimony corroborated cellular phone data which showed that there was communication between Makgalane and the two accused,” the NPA regional spokesperson explained.

In aggravation, state prosecutor Advocate Allen Simpson requested the court to impose a direct term of imprisonment on the accused because they stole from their employer and the neighbouring farmers for a period of six months which is an indication that they would have continued with their criminal activities if they were not arrested.

“The Free State is an agricultural province and the actions of the accused affects agricultural production and this is costly to the farmers. The farmers also spend a lot of money by putting up cameras in an attempt to reduce stock theft,” said Simpson.

Magistrate Moeng agreed with the prosecutor that the only suitable sentence he could impose was a direct term of imprisonment.

He subsequently sentenced the pair to an effective 12 years’ imprisonment each.

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