In many rural areas, farmers have already made big contributions to keeping communities safe. This includes organised farm watches and security cameras erected on rural roads.
Kobus Visser, head of the Rural Safety Centre of Excellence at Agri SA, said the cameras play a crucial role in tracking thieves and keeping an eye on access roads to farms.
“There have been many success stories where these cameras have assisted police in tracking stock thieves, and even robbers that struck in town.”
He advised farmers to set up farm watches where these were not already in place, as this provides area-specific knowledge about points of risk and available resources to utilise in times of need.
Furthermore, good communication with neighbours is vital so that farmers can call for help when needed. Here, a two-way radio is helpful since cell-phone coverage is often out when there is load-shedding.
When intruders are discovered on the farm, Visser stated that the survival rate could be drastically increased if the intruder could be delayed in any way from reaching the farmer and their family. An inside security gate that blocks off certain rooms is advised.
“Research conducted in South Africa among criminals in prison shows that a small dog in the house is one of the biggest deterrents to break-ins that are planned for during the night. The dog alerts the owner in time and prevents a situation where one only wakes up once the intruder is standing next to your bed.”
Having a proper security system in place is of course one of the first steps in keeping your property safe. However, such a system means little if it is not in proper working order.
Connie du Preez, regional manager for security company CSG HiTech in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, stresses the importance of testing an alarm system regularly to ensure it is still working as it should. This includes panic buttons and electric fencing.
“Criminals will cut a farm fence, watch to see who shows up, and if no one does, they strike the next day.”
With theft prevalent on litchi and mango farms this time of year, Du Preez implored farmers not to confront strangers on the farm on their own, but rather call in their security company.
“We had a case last year where a farmer was murdered after he went to investigate movement in his orchards.”
He also cautions farmers to ensure that dogs left behind on the farm are properly taken care of.
“We often get to properties and the water bowl is dry – who knows how long they have been without water!”
Lastly, farmers must ensure that there is a responsible person put in charge of the property when going on holiday. This prevents the farm from being deserted and open to attack.
“The security company must be aware of this person, and we must be able to get hold of them if there is a problem, since the farmer’s phone is often not with them all the time when they are on holiday,” said Du Preez.