SAPS, Agri SA launch urgent intervention as farm tension mounts

Two suspects due in court on Tuesday following the murder of a Free State farm manager

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As the details begin to emerge about the final hours of a murdered Free State farm manager, Agri SA, TLU SA, Afriforum and the police have announced that they’re joining forces to crack down on crime in rural communities.

In a robust discussion that took place in Pretoria today, the organisations agreed to implement national and local joint rural safety command centres in crime hotspots to not only protect farmers and workers, but to reduce crime.

These centres will be operated through an integration of both personnel and resources which includes the use of helicopters and drones to track down criminals. It will also jointly implement the operational plan of the rural safety strategy which will address issues of mutual trust with the goal of ultimately significantly reducing crime.

Increased SAPS visibility in rural areas

Tommie Esterhuyse, chairperson of Agri SA’s rural safety committee. Photo: Free State Agriculture

The joint statement was issued by brigadier Vishnu Naidoo, the national police spokesperson, Tommie Esterhuyse as the chairperson of Agri SA’s rural safety committee and Bennie van Zyl, general manager of TLU SA.

Through joining forces, they will also crack down on farm attacks by increasing visibility in rural areas. The organisations also agreed that it is imperative to establish community-based mounted units, the Royal Reserve Police Service as part of the traditional policing concept as well as the tourism reservists.

Emphasis was also placed on addressing the practical challenges with the recruitment and utilisation of reservists to ease access for farming communities.

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The national police commissioner, general Khehla John Sitole. Photo: SAPS

The national police commissioner, general Khehla John Sitole, reiterated the police’s “unwavering commitment” to prioritise crimes in rural areas, both proactively and reactively.

He further reiterated the police’s mission to “combat stock theft and farm attacks and implement the rural safety strategy which focuses on rural safety, infrastructure and a rural safety framework”. “The implementation of stabilisation interventions in hotspot areas is critical to ensuring an effective proactive approach,” said Sitole.

Cross-border crime affecting the farming community were also discussed and emphasis was placed on resourcing police stations at the border, improving intelligence and establishing cross-border liaison committees.

Urgent focus on North West crime hotspot

Sitole said, “Crime intelligence will enhance its approach in determining the hotspot areas through its continued participation in the priority committee meetings all levels of policing as well as the establishment of a rural safety analysis desk.

”The meeting agreed that an integrated team will urgently address security concerns in specifically the Tlhakgaming area in North West, among others. The high-level committee will convene on a quarterly basis to monitor progress of the implementation of the rural safety strategy and decisions taken at previous meetings.

Meanwhile two suspects are due to appear in the Senekal magistrate’s court on Tuesday following their arrest in connection with the murder of Brendin Horner (21). The farm manager was killed last Friday, with his body tied to a pole in an open space on De Rots farm, west of Bethlehem. The suspects, aged 34 and 43, were arrested on Saturday at Fateng tse Ntsho in Paul Roux.

Meanwhile a mass protest is expected in Senekal tomorrow following Horner’s brutal death. South Africans have also taken to social media to express their shock and anger, calling on government to provide greater protection for farmers and their workers.

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