Following a recent spike in farm attacks, Agri SA and the police are joining forces to crack down on crime. They’ve announced an enhanced implementation of the national rural safety strategy to not only protect farmers and workers, but also curb stock theft.
Food For Mzansi can confirm that both these organisations have agreed to urgently address pressing matters in an attempt to move the strategy forward. They have also set up a joint working group to deal with the following issues:
- to increase visibility to curb farm attacks by both the police and farmers through the blue and white light patrols;
- to focus on an aggressive recruitment process of reservists;
- to initiate some changes on the reservist learning programme which will encourage more farmers and farm workers to be part of the reservist system;
- to possibly include reducing the length of the learning programme;
- to ensure that all farm watches and neighbourhood structures operate within the framework of the law and policies at all times;
- to revitalize the rural safety committees at the lower levels and to ensure participation at the level of provincial and national priority committees; and
- to seek a long lasting solution to the challenge of illegal hunting with dogs.
In a joint statement, Agri SA and the police expressed their commitment to work together and to mobilise other agricultural unions, such as TLU SA, and other role players in ensuring an enhanced implementation to co-create a crime-free farming environment.
Agri SA’s leadership met with the police’s divisional commissioner of visible policing, lieutenant general MD Sempe, on 28 July 2020 in an attempt to strengthen the working relations between the organisations. The national rural safety strategy was initially implemented in 2011 and then reviewed during 2018 and 2019 after exhaustive consultation with stakeholders, including organised agriculture, farm worker unions and relevant government departments.
The parties say police minister general Bheki Cele then officiated the launch of the reviewed strategy in Makhado, Limpopo on 11 October 2019 where various stakeholders signed a pledge to rally behind the implementation of the strategy.
Agri SA takes lead in rural safety strategy
According to a media release, “Agri SA, which is one of the key critical partners in the revised rural safety strategy, appreciated and thanked the police for the work done in this regard as well as for the opportunity to be a strategic role player in the development and implementation of the strategy. Both parties agreed that the effective implementation of the strategy should, however, be supported by the necessary resources.”
Statistics released recently by Cele and Stats SA revealed that 49 murders occurred on farms during the 2019-2020 financial year.
The agricultural sector was taken aback by these official farm attacks with Agri SA saying that the statistics do not reflect the sense of insecurity experienced by the farming community.
Tommie Esterhuyse, chairperson of Agri SA’s centre of excellence: rural safety, says, “The spate of farm attacks and murders, and especially the recent murders in the Vaalharts area, as well as the high levels of property-related crime, have brought the mood virtually to breaking point.”