Farmers Happy With Efforts To Fight Organised Crime

Free State Agriculture (FSA) has welcomed the recently launched Rural Safety Strategy (RSS) saying it should help contain organised crime in the sector and promote production.

FSA Rural Safety Committee chairperson Jakkals le Roux said in a statement the revised strategy is more encompassing as it covers more aspects, adding it can only work with the total involvement of all stakeholders.

“The crux of the revised Rural Safety Strategy (RSS) is to have safer agricultural communities, but this can only happen if everyone is involved and has an attitude of cooperation,” said Le Roux.

The revised RSS was launched in Makhado on October 11 by police minister Bheki Cele and National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole. The strategy previously had four focus areas and is now based on eight pillars.

Le Roux noted the revised RSS places a greater emphasis on cooperation and urged all role players to actively participate in combating crime.

The rural safety chair urged the SAPS to adhere to the specific timelines for implementation and evaluation of the strategy.

FSA wants training workshops, between the SAPS, SANDF, organised agriculture and other role players, to be held at district level to ensure successful implementation.

The other four additional areas include; increasing community engagement and cooperation of role players to mobilise communities against crime; improving and expanding government systems and legislation that negatively impact crime and safety; implementing an analysis process on organised crime threats that should link groups and syndicates involved in rural crime and monitoring the rollout of the RSS quarterly, evaluate it every three years and review it every five years.

Le Roux believes it is important that the RSS is monitored at all levels of cooperation with strict timelines so that it does not remain a mere document.

“This means that there should be a substantial improvement in capacity, manpower and equipment within a year or two. Actual implementation must take place, which includes the implementation of short and medium term strategies. There must also be closer contact and liaison with the SAPS at all levels, which includes ground, district, provincial and national level,” he said.

The revised RSS also stipulates that various other aspects should be addressed by March 2021. These include working studies to establish rural safety units, expand the capacity of existing stock theft units and that crime intelligence should play a greater role in establishing links on organised crime.

It was also recommended that focus on property crimes should be extended to theft of farm implements and products. Illegal hunting with dogs should also be addressed.

The SAPS’s capacity, manpower and resources must be prioritised and private security companies and civil rights organisations included. Furthermore, quick response teams and strengthening of border operations are also a priority, according to FSA.

By: Martin Makoni