Time is running out for the much-discussed Rural Security Strategy to make an impact and deliver meaningful results in terms of rural security. This is the reality.
This strategy already has its origin in 2011. Various versions have since seen the light of day with little impact. Actual and actual implementation never took place. A so-called final version was signed off by the Minister of Police and National Commissioner at the end of 2018. However, the final version was approached in no way different from all the previous versions.
The National Summit in June 2022 aimed to update the strategy.
A ministerial task force was then even set up to see that the implementation did take place. TLU SA has a member who serves on the task force. However, it is clear that the task force actually has no powers or influence. In six months, the Minister has not considered it necessary to meet with the task force even once.
When it comes to who is responsible for implementing the national Rural Security Strategy, the answer is simple.
“The SAPS facilitates this and is primarily responsible for getting the ball rolling by involving the various agricultural organizations and other role players such as security companies in the process,” said Mr. Hugo Pretorius, chairman of TLU SA’s safety committee.
“Cooperation on the rural security front has been lagging since the dissolution of the commandos and the planned switch to the reservist system, few reservists are still in service, that pool has shrunk to a fraction of what it was,” explains Mr. Pretorius.
“The SAPS has already put several plans on the table, often with great cheer. However, these documents have in fact become shelf documents. The last session was on 28 June 2022 in Parys, with the promise of speedy implementation down to the grassroots level, however this happened in few places.”
However, there is one region that is successfully working with the Rural Security Strategy: Limpopo.
“Already years ago, the farm guard structure was established in Limpopo which included all role players from various institutions and individuals. The decisive factor is that this structure is well coordinated, which brings good cooperation. In addition to this are the overarching farm guards that include all role players from various organisations. The rural security structure is in connection with these already established structures and everyone who has to do with security connects to the structure,” explains Mrs. Erika Helm, chairperson of TLU SA’s local government committee.
“This structure is driven by strong leaders and senior persons who have good links with the SAPS. The camera systems and emergency radio channels that have been implemented ensure that all residents tune in to the structure which contributes to the success. Security cannot be delegated to any party, each area must accept that responsibility and work really hard to support the strategy throughout.”
For most of the country, the strategy remains just that, a strategy.
“Meetings are continuously postponed with no follow-up dates. This confirms that the state and SAPS do not have the will or perseverance to address rural crime. Furthermore, we are left with a situation where the process is hampered by a shortage of vehicles, manpower, expertise and very often the will to be successful with it. Fortunately, however, there are still members of the SAPS who are committed.”
No action and execution is shown in the country’s crime figures. “The saying did not come to be postponed for nothing. I think we are on the threshold of a reset when it comes to the Rural Security Strategy. If implementation had taken place from the beginning, it would have been a refined process by now. The procrastination further contributes to the fact that product, livestock theft, theft of inputs, as well as the damage to infrastructure are not addressed. This is extremely essential in order to enable farmers to farm and thereby ensure food security. For the purposes of food security, farmers spend a lot of money and time on security equipment, cameras and security companies, which are necessary in order to enable the farmer to continue farming and attempt to reduce his security risk.
There are many areas where farm guards, community security structures function successfully outside the rural security structure because the SAPS is dragging its feet.
“Agriculture and farmers are still showing up all the way, but the same cannot be said of government and SAPS. It is important for us that it is clear that we always want to be part of the solution,” says Mr. Pretorius.
This time of year, safety is very high on the agenda. “The festive season is already the time when more opportunistic criminals become part of the team, who focus on criminal activities in the rural environment.”
Read the original article in Afrikaans on TLU SA
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