A bloody battle over livestock in the hills of the Eastern Cape has turned so violent that established farmers are starting to surrender, sell up and migrate. Marginal farmers living in villages and some farmers have gone into resistance mode and are fighting back with all their might.
Stock thieves, operating in the unique style of a newly rich provincial rural mafia with urban connections, are accused of wholesale rustling.
Their ravaging is starting to reach a crescendo where those who dare to resist are put to death in blazing vehicles or are mown down in automatic assault weapon fire. The war has become a national crisis, the Daily Dispatch team learnt during a four-month intensive investigation.