Gavin Foster investigates how KwaZulu-Natal dairy farmers are left sucking the hind tit in cow-leasing ponzi scheme.
Remember those old Western movies where the bad hombres are seen making off over the plains with other people’s cattle herds? The action was usually accompanied by shrill yells, cracking of whips and gunshots fired wildly in the air, and the audience clapped and cheered when, in the concluding scenes, the villains were shown in silhouette against a golden sunset – twitching on the end of a rope. South Africa is maybe not quite the Wild West, but a bunch of victims of what could turn out to be this country’s biggest-ever cattle scam are still waiting for justice, if not for quite that final sunset scene.
Robyn Joubert of Farmer’s Weekly broke the story in August by reporting that dairy farmers and investors who’d leased cattle to an unnamed farmer in Koppies near Parys in the Free State could have lost up to 5,000 cows, worth an estimated R50 million, when his business went belly-up.