Dance of criminals, jobseekers and the desperate thieving for food on SA-Lesotho border

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Every day, a group of men in Fouriesburg in the Free State trek along the Caledon River and look out towards the magnificent Lesotho mountains. But theirs is not a trip to take in the splendour of the Mountain Kingdom — they are there to guard against crime.

Preventing livestock theft is their primary goal, but they are also helping to foil the illegal crossing of stolen vehicles and flow of undocumented immigrants across the border.

The Hawks led a sting operation in the area earlier this month, arresting farm owner Modiehi Mofokeng, 38. She briefly appeared at the Fouriesburg magistrate’s court on Monday last week for allegedly setting up a “tollgate” at her farm, enabling vehicle thieves and illegal immigrants to cross the border for a fee.

TimesLIVE visited the area to speak to people first-hand to understand why they want to come to SA, gauge the losses being sustained by farmers and see who profits from the illicit activities.
“Stock theft is a high priority crime in our area,” said Riaan Corbett from the Farmers Union.

“The border is not far away so when they steal, they cross through the river into Lesotho. It takes you a long time to get them back. A few cows can be a lot of money.”

At first, the Farmers Union in Fouriesburg installed cameras and patrolled across the area to combat livestock theft.

Corbett said while he was a farmer, the daily patrols have become a way of life because they live adjacent to the border.

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