Po lice and Agri SA to cooperate on revised rural safety plan
It is critical that the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) Rural Safety Plan include an implementation plan as recommended by Agri SA’s provincial structures. This was according to Dr Jane Buys, a safety and risk analyst at Free State Agriculture.
Buys was responding to an announcement by Agri SA that the recently re-evaluated rural safety strategy would be finalised and introduced jointly with the SAPS in 2019.
She said South Africa’s existing Rural Safety Plan was periodically re-evaluated to accommodate new challenges and demands.
“The plan provides for input from all levels of society and this year, the Agri SA affiliates, among others, requested that a specific implementation plan with action schedules and datelines be included.” In the past, the Rural Safety Plan mainly concentrated on violent crimes and stock theft. Following the proposals from Agri SA’s affiliates, the plan would, in future, also include crimes such as cable theft, poaching and cross-border crimes.
In the Free State, for example, agriculture was severely affected by crime along the Lesotho border.
The main government bodies responsible for law and order on the border, namely the South African Defence Force, SAPS and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, were severely understaffed.
“They find it exceedingly difficult to manage crimes such as stock theft and illegal grazing of vast numbers of livestock from our neighbouring country,” said Buys. There were also indications that specialist units for murder and robbery, among others, would be reinstated.
Meanwhile, Agri SA welcomed the commitment of General Khehla Sitole, the National Commissioner of the SAPS, to improved rural safety and cooperation with the organisation.
Sitole attended Agri SA’s Rural Safety Committee’s recent meeting, where he discussed the police’s turnaround strategy, with rural safety as one of its key focus areas.
He also said that it was the objective of the SAPS to create a safer rural environment by 2030, thereby fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities.
Tommie Esterhuyse, chairperson of Agri SA’s Centre of Excellence for Rural Safety, said Sitole’s commitment to rural safety created an opportunity for open and honest conversation with the SAPS. – Annelie Coleman