Officials said the theft is occurring during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The Mpumalanga government has condemned the increase in the stealing of sugarcane from farms to brew home-made beer.
Agriculture MEC Vusi Shongwe said his department was concerned about these “acts of criminality” and wanted them to be stopped now.
He called on farmers to be vigilant and help in the fight against this crime.
“It takes long hours of hard labour for farmers and workers to produce sugarcane and other food from the soil, and it cannot be that their sweat is disregarded through acts of criminality,” said Shongwe.
The crime is rife in the Nkomazi and Mbombela areas where sugarcane farming takes place. Communities are said to be resorting to pineapple, ginger or sugarcane to brew home-made beer during the Covid-19 lockdown.
This creates jobs for thieves who go and steal the sugarcane from the farms and come sell them to the home-brewers.
“It is unacceptable that some elements who defy a noble call to desist from alcohol consumption during this lockdown resort to stealing from farmers to produce their own alcohol,” Shongwe said.
He said if this goes unchecked it will result in huge losses for farmer-owners and workers losing work due to the financial losses that may be accrued to the business.
“Unless we bring an end to this thuggery, farm-workers will lose their jobs and farms will not produce adequate food for the population. Everyone will be affected because we all depend on farmers for the food we eat,” he said.
Shongwe will now speak to safety and security MEC Gabisile Shabalala, police boss Lieutenant-General Mondli Zuma and other relevant stakeholders to formulate a “watertight strategy to curb these unfortunate acts of thuggery”.
“Farmers should form strong partnerships with their nearest police stations and set up forums whose sole aim is to devise mechanisms to fight crime.”
(edited by ZK)
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