Mango theft, in particular the theft of green mangoes off community owned farms, has once again come into the spotlight. This time however, it is not the concerned residents on neighbouring farms raising the alarm, but traditional leaders making their voices heard. And it is about time too – lest we forget Dindinnie in 2017 and the ongoing theft at Bali.
Traditional leaders described the theft of green mangoes from these farms, most of which were returned to various communities through the government`s Land redistribution programme, as being no different to “one breaking a leg and still expecting to win a race.” This comes in the wake of various vehicles seen lining the tar road in attempt to sell green mangoes most of which are stolen during the evenings at abandoned farms.
The issue came to light after an incident where a man was intercepted by the community while stealing mangoes from a village farm in the Julesburg area a week ago. According to sources a group of would-be thieves were stealing green mangoes during the night when they were seen by the farmer and a mob was called to assist. This resulted in one person killed by the mob.
Issuing a warning to the community, headman, Mhlarhi Mugiyo, said that with the green mango season open, it is common that people are caught stealing the mangoes during the night so that they could be sold at the atchar producing factories the following day.
“With the green season open our youths, some of whom are too lazy to work, are indulging in theft of mangoes on the farms which belong to communities. These youths take advantage of the lack of infrastructure such as electric fences which very often leads to unfortunate instances such as the death of the Julesburg youth last week,” said Mugiyo.
“In this village we do not want the youths who are teaching other children to steal mangoes, but instead welcome young entrepreneurs who seek ways to alleviate poverty. We need solutions, not criminals. Those who wish to continue stealing should take heed of this warning, you will be caught and arrested or perhaps even worse.”
The words of the old man fell on deaf ears though as the theft of mangoes continued. Last week a farmer and a local headman, Ben Khumalo, had their hands full and had to enlist the services of the street patrollers to assist after his farm was cleaned out of the green mangoes by residents who stay near the farm. Though he was helped, it was too little too late.
Every late spring and early summer in Tzaneen, Phalaborwa, Hoedspruit, Duiwelskloof, Letsitele, Bolobedu and other areas of the tropical paradise it is “Mango Season”. Green mangoes are picked and either sold to bakkie owners at R40 a crate or to the atchar producing factories in Tzaneen and Nkowankowa for cash. Most of the factories buy the mangoes at a decent price without asking too many questions about its origins.
For most people, like Anna on the Bali farm, this is their only means of income. For this situation, the blame needs to be placed squarely on the all too silent Mopani District Municipality who, to date, has still not tabled a clear and definite plan of action regarding their proposed Agri-Hub at the Bali farm site.