Keetmanshoop-Fonteintjie Fish Farm at Keetmanshoop was forced to harvest its fruit produce earlier than the day of the anticipated harvest, after almost 70 percent of the fruits were stolen last week.
The thieves allegedly cut through the fence during the night and started illegally harvesting the lemons, oranges and naartjies, leaving only about 30 percent of the produce.
Farm manager Peter Simasiku informed New Era that although the farm mostly focuses on aquaculture, they had started planting various types of fruit trees, aimed diversifying production of the farm.
Simasiku said, by doing this they hope to expand operations and employ more people, and produce fresh fruits for the community, noting the first harvest was set to be donated to community members living near the farm, but this is now impossible, because of the recent theft.
“Seventy percent of the production was stolen. It was going to be a good harvest, the soil is good and the trees are growing well, but this is a setback,” he stated.
The thieves seem to be the same culprits that stole fish from the farm last year, and Simasiku expressed concern that some parents were collaborating with their children to get onto the farm to steal, with the elders cutting the fence open and the younger children climbing through under the fence.
He further said the police had informed him that the minors that were questioned, informed the police that they were sent by their parents.
“It seems to be one household, and the elders cut the fence open and sent in the ones who are under-age, so that even if they are caught, they will not be sent to jail.”
He stressed the need for the community to protect the little government is trying to provide, especially during a time when the country is faced with financial constraints, saying such projects should be able to not only sustain themselves, but expand and create jobs for many.
“The project should sustain itself. We do not want to kneel down to government and beg for money again, we want to stand on our own, but we cannot do that if we do not harvest because some people have stolen it,” he said.
Simasiku said they expected to harvest over 500 kg of fruit before the theft.