Crime-fighting units welcomed

“Agri SA welcomes the announcement by the Minister of Police regarding the reinstatement of crime-fighting units in rural areas. After the phasing-out of the commando system and given the delays experienced with the finalisation of the reservist policy, rural communities remain vulnerable to crime. In order to combat attacks and criminality aimed at the farming community, effective law enforcement is of immediate importance. We accept the Rural Protection Strategy, supported by the policy of sector-policing and reservists, as adequate to combat rural crime. We expect the police to make optimal use of the crime-fighting units, within this strategy, in order to combat crime,” says André Botha, chair of Agri SA’s Rural Safety Committee.

Stock theft has a negative impact on the profitability of commercial stock farmers and even more so on that of small-scale farmers, who could lose their entire herd during one incident of theft. The 6,5% increase in stock theft in the past year illustrates the seriousness of this crime for the agricultural sector. “Agri SA also welcomes the Minister’s announcement that the police already have initiatives in place to address these increases; that the functioning of stock theft units was being reviewed and that legislation would be revised to combat stock theft more effectively,” says Botha.

The crime statistics released by the Minister yesterday create a promising picture with regard to crime and could considerably improve the image of the country and its police force. “Agri SA wishes to congratulate Minister Mthethwa and dedicated members of the police with the results that were achieved. However, the percentage success with arrests of suspects remains low, which sends a message that the chances of being arrested for a crime are slim,” says Botha.

House Burglary, which is one of the crimes that continue to affect the farming community, showed an increase of 1,9%. “It is disappointing that this crime cannot be effectively curbed as the agricultural community, who live in remote areas, are so much more exposed. We call on the Minister of Police to activate the rural crime-fighting units as soon as possible as it will have a positive effect on combating such crime,” says Botha.

Although Agri SA congratulated the Minister of Police with the improved results achieved by the police service with crime fighting over the past year, it asked that the Reservist policy as well as the Rural Protection Strategy be urgently finalised and released. “This will offer the farming community an opportunity to become actively involved as reservists in crime-fighting operations. Agri SA would like to enter into discussion with the Minister regarding the practical implications of yesterday’s announcement and finalisation of the strategy and policy,” says Botha.