The Western Cape department of agriculture has ramped up its rural safety strategy with interventions which are meant to better protect and safeguard the province’s agricultural producers and agri workers.
“As the agents of food security and key drivers of the economy, [agricultural producers and agri workers] deserve to be acknowledged, appreciated and protected,” said the province’s agricultural minister, Dr Ivan Meyer, in statement.
This follows a gruesome attack on the farm Kilpheuwel, outside Moorreesburg, on 5 April 2022 which led to the death of Ingrid Kock and left her husband, Frans, seriously injured.
Ingrid and Frans were visiting their son in Moorreesburg when the couple were brutally attacked, resulting in the death of Ingrid, who is a mother and grandmother.
The Western Cape department of agriculture said they will closely monitor the case’s progress, through their court watching brief unit, until its conclusion.
“As indicated in the past, I intend to oppose bail applications involving producers and agri-workers. I will therefore be doing so in this case. I await confirmation of a bail hearing date,” Meyer said.
Protect driving force behind food security
It has been widely reported that rural communities are at great risk of crime due to their isolation from police stations.
This requires a greater need for special police resources to combat farm attacks and killings as well as the high incidences of other criminal activities that negatively affect farming, Meyer said.
He pointed out that the realisation of safe and cohesive communities remains essential, as crime and fragmented communities reduce individual life chances and opportunities and further destabilise communities.
“The safety of all stakeholders within the agricultural value chain is key to addressing rural poverty, promoting sustainable food security, and driving local economic development,” Meyer added.
He explained that the province was determined to continue investing in its rural safety plan in partnership with neighbourhood and farm watches, local municipalities, and the agricultural and business sectors.
The province has rolled out the following interventions on Rural Safety:
Rural Safety desk: It provides a platform for the public, farmers/producers, agri workers and agricultural stakeholders to log enquiries, queries, and matters on rural safety. A dedicated rural safety desk email address has been created: Ruralsafety@elsenburg.com
Rural Safety Monitoring Dashboard: The dashboard assists in identifying rural crime hotspots and informing data-led rural safety interventions to improve safety within rural and agricultural communities across the province.
Rural Safety Pocket Guide: The Rural Safety Pocket Guide provides practical guidelines to address safety issues in the agricultural sector and the broader rural community.
Rural Safety Summit: To support an overall improved, protected and safe agricultural environment, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture hosted a successful Rural Safety Summit on 23 November 2021 at Goudini, Rawsonville. The Summit created a platform to share information on existing rural safety initiatives and policy responses toward improved rural safety and explore the latest technologies and innovations in rural safety.
Road Safety Awareness sessions: In collaboration with the department of transport and public works (road safety management unit and provincial traffic), the department of agriculture continues to run road safety awareness sessions amongst stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
Engagements at district and local safety forums: The department is involved in structured engagements with district safety forums, local safety forums, neighbourhood and farm watches. These engagements aim to identify rural safety challenges and craft region-specific interventions to address these challenges.
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