File image: Pexels

Unknown men allegedly illegally gained entrance to a Mpumalanga farm, then butchered 30 sheep, leaving behind only skin, heads and intestines.

The owner was only able to identify that the slaughtered sheep were his through ear tags still intact on the severed heads left behind.

This happened on Sunday at the Goedgedacht Farm in Standerton.

Spokesperson of the police Colonel Mtsholi Bhembe said it was not known how many people were involved but police suspect it was a number of them.

"They had all the time in the world because 30 sheep is a lot. According to information at police's disposal, the farm owner received a call from one of the neighbouring farmers informing him about sheep intestines discovered on the road within the area. He then went to the place and upon arrival, he saw the intestines as well as sheep’s feet, skins and heads with ear tags still intact, confirming that it was indeed his sheep.

"Police were summoned to the scene and their investigations uncovered that the suspects may have gained entry through the farm gate, slaughtered the sheep and took the carcasses away, leaving behind the above-mentioned parts."

Bhembe said he did not know why the suspects killed the sheep and left those parts behind.

"We are speculating here but the suspicion is that maybe there was an order out for the meat only and that's why they left the other parts behind."

 According to Bhembe, those kinds of crimes were rife in Mpumalanga, especially the Gert Sibande area.

He said there was a time when livestock thieves slaughtered cows then covered them with branches with the intention of going back for them. However, the dead cows were found. 

In some instances, he said, others incapacitate the cows by severing the hamstring tendons on the legs then go back and kill them and take the meat.