The announcement by the Western Cape government that an interministerial committee on rural safety will be using technology to help improve safety on farms is a step in the right direction.
In Gauteng the DA has been calling for the establishment of such a committee so that a joint plan can be formulated to ensure residents in rural areas are kept safe.
During a recent focus group I conducted to discuss crime in rural communities it became clear the police services in the area have collapsed. Residents feel they need to take matters into their own hands. Furthermore, there is a perception that police are in cahoots with criminal syndicates involved in drugs and livestock theft.
Farmers and farm workers are being targeted because of their relative isolation and vulnerability, the distance to police stations as well as their age. For a long time the DA has been calling on the provincial government to come up with a comprehensive plan to deal with rural safety in our province.
The Midvaal District Municipality under mayor Bongani Baloyi is leading the way in beefing up rural safety. It has procured 25 thermal hand-held cameras, distributed to farmers to assist with rural safety. One control has been made available to assist with radio communications to all community police forums, neighbourhood watches, community forums and farmers’ associations.
While rural safety is the joint responsibility of the department of community safety and the police, the department of agriculture & rural development should also be consulted so that they can assist.
We will continue to put pressure on the government to implement a concrete rural safety plan and to declare farm murders a hate crime. Our rural communities are tired of talk — they want action.
Ina Cilliers, MPL
DA Gauteng agriculture & rural development spokesperson
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