The  Richmond Municipality is clamping down on theft of its timber, estimated at wood worth millions, and wants the perpetrators to be found and dealt with by the law.
Picture: Pixabay
The Richmond Municipality is clamping down on theft of its timber, estimated at wood worth millions, and wants the perpetrators to be found and dealt with by the law. Picture: Pixabay
DA spokesperson on agriculture and rural development, Chris Pappas.
DA spokesperson on agriculture and rural development, Chris Pappas.
Durban - The  Richmond Municipality is clamping down on theft of its timber, estimated at wood worth millions, and wants the perpetrators to be found and dealt with by the law.

The municipality has opened a criminal case with the Richmond police.

Opposition parties have estimated that the municipality has lost about R13million in revenue because of the theft.

Last month, the DA conducted an oversight inspection of the municipal-owned forest, which is about 500ha in size.

The party said it believed that the theft from the yard had been ongoing for several months.

DA spokesperson on agriculture and rural development, Chris Pappas.


DA spokesperson on agriculture and rural development, Chris Pappas, said: “According to our sources, there are councillors who have allegedly benefited from the illegal logging.

“Immediately after the visit, the forest area under scrutiny was set alight and burned to the ground. The municipality’s decision to lay charges is long overdue.

“Apart from the criminality involved, this is revenue that’s now lost.”

Pappas said the party would also be writing to the police to request that the criminal case be transferred from SAPS Richmond to the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigations (the Hawks).

DA councillor in the area, Goodman Madonda, said there was nothing left of the forest.

“The theft started slowly last year while there was still a contractor on site. The thieves harassed and threatened the contractor until the contractor abandoned the forest,” he said.

Madonda added that after the contractor left, the situation got worse and the theft became rampant. The thieves also set the forest on fire.

He said for the past few days, a huge fire had been burning.

“All that must happen now is that an investigation must be conducted and those responsible must be arrested. This will ensure that even if the municipality plants again, something like this will never happen again,” he said.

Richmond municipal manager S’bu Mkhize confirmed that a theft case had been opened and said a process was under way to quantify how much timber had been burnt.

Regarding the allegation of councillors being involved in the theft of the timber, Mkhize said: “The DA and all other councillors took a decision for the case to be opened when the matter was presented to council.

“It then becomes difficult for me to know whether councillors are involved while the instruction came from them to open the case. The only time this question will be answered correctly will be when the police arrest the wrongdoers as per the case opened,” he said.

The Mercury