File photo: African News Agency (ANA).

RUSTENBURG - Four men arrested for allegedly stealing ten sheep with an estimated value of R30,000 appeared in the Ventersdorp Magistrate's Court on Thursday, North West police said.

Police spokesperson Colonel Adele Myburgh said a farmer allegedly caught the three men red-handed, loading one of his sheep into their Toyota Corolla on Monday morning at a farm close to Ventersdorp.

When they saw the farmer, they jumped into their vehicle and sped off, leaving nine sheep tied up next to the road, hidden in tall grass.

A chase ensued and more farmers joined in the chase, trying to stop them.

The police were also alerted, but in the meantime the farmers blocked the road with their vehicles and cornered the suspects.

"In a bid to escape, the alleged thieves drove off the road onto a service road next to the railway lane close to Ratsegai station. In the process, their vehicle’s chassis got stuck and could not move although the tyres were spinning.

"In the process of forcing to drive off, the vehicle allegedly caught fire due to the friction caused by the spinning tyres. As a result, the accused were forced to flee the scene. However, one of them was caught by the farmers and handed over to the police upon arrival at the scene," she said.

One sheep was recovered in the vehicle, before it was totally engulfed in flames. The other nine tied up sheep were recovered and handed back to the owner.

"Investigations by the stock theft unit led to the arrest of three more accused in Tshing Location on Monday, 29 and Tuesday, 30 July 2019."

She said the case against  Simphiwe Sehumelo, 20, Anthony Moosa Kock, 31, Stone Daniel Matabela. 30,  and Itumeleng Modisane, 19, was postponed to August 5. 

They were kept in custody until their appearance next week.

African News Agency (ANA)