“We want to assure residents that we will continue prioritising the rural safety agenda. Rural communities will never be regarded as [our] stepchild.”
The Western Cape MEC for police oversight and community safety, Reagan Allan, used the province’s quarterly inter-ministerial committee meeting on rural safety to recommit to farm security in the province.
The Western Cape MEC for agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, chaired the meeting and said the most important message of the day was that collaboration and partnerships are the key ingredients to fighting crime.
He added that a total of 498 accredited farm and neighbourhood watches are now operating across the Western Cape and collaborating closely with private security umbrella associations, organised agriculture, different disaster management centres in the province as well as the police.
“The Western Cape has worked hard to implement the provincial rural safety plan, which requires the government to form partnerships with the South African Police Service, neighbourhood and farm watches, the private sector and any other structures that can contribute towards making our rural communities safer.”
The Western Cape is the only province to have developed and implemented a provincial rural safety plan, he said, which is furthermore actively developed and supported by its department of agriculture. He also said it is the only province to have hosted a rural safety summit that brought together all role players “to consolidate a cohesive plan to fight rural crime”.
“With the support of my colleague [Allan], I am taking a firm lead in ensuring that rural communities are safe.”
Keeping an eye on crime patterns
Meyer said that the provincial government is working hard at further integrating already-developed technology, such as the rural safety desk and rural safety monitoring dashboard, into crime-fighting efforts.
“The next step is integrating the various safety and security technologies to support rural safety. I am pleased with the progress in this regard as an integrated digital platform between all law enforcement agencies will improve the coordination of rural safety.”
On his part, Allan said that crime fighting in one geographical area often displaces the crime to another. In the Western Cape, crimes are often displaced from the Cape Town metro to rural areas. “Currently, 47% of the so-called known drug houses are located outside the Cape metro. We’ve been informed that drug dealers who might be in the spotlight are making rural communities their new homes.
“All criminals throughout our province should feel uncomfortable. I want to call on our rural communities to join us in the fight against those seeking to commit any crime.”
Meyer added that an attack on the dignity of local farmers and farmworkers is an attack on the economy of South Africa, as the Western Cape is responsible for 53% of the country’s agricultural exports.
“We will continue to forge ahead with plans to ensure that farmers, farmworkers and rural communities who are the backbone of our agricultural economy, are safe,” Meyer said and thanked all provincial agencies and partners “doing their utmost” to provide them with protection.
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