A change in the approach towards illegal fruit sellers, who in most cases sell stolen stock on the side of the road, is bearing fruit in the Western Cape.
“A local farmer, who like many others is plagued by fruit theft and the destruction of farming equipment and infrastructure, called the police when a notorious fruit thief was spotted stealing fruit and wanted to sell it on the side of the road a few minutes later,” says Daan van Leeuwen Boomkamp, general commander of the Drakenstein Farm Watch (DFW) fire and rescue team.
When the woman was apprehended by DFW and FADT AR officers, she admitted the theft and her illegal means of earning an income for years.
“The police were notified for support, because a case would be filed. After an hour, however, there was still no response from the police. The DFW officers contacted the Paarl DSSN radio control room and requested municipal officers to assist.”
The team arrived within minutes and, as municipal legislation had been breached, the woman was fined heavily. She has to appear in the municipal court soon.
“The way forward with illegal fruit sellers and fruit thieves for the farming community seems to be through municipal law enforcement,” says Van Leeuwen Boomkamp. “Until now, fruit theft has thrived, due to the absence of sufficient police visibility and that it has not led to any successful arrests, fines or imprisonment. Now there is seemingly a new era with an alternative route on the table. We thank the DSSN control room and the Drakenstein Municipality for their help in bringing law and order to a seemingly lawless environment.”