R1,9 million allocated to fighting crime in rural areas

The farming community’s safety is directly related to food security in South Africa. Thus, the vulnerability of the country’s farming and rural communities to crime is a problem not only for farmers, but the nation as a whole.

R1,9 million allocated to fighting crime in rural areas
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This was according to Cobus van Zyl, chairperson of the Agri Securitas Trust Fund, who added that it was vital to support farming communities when it came to the safety of farmers and their workers.

His statement followed the recent approval by Agri Securitas’s board of trustees to make R1,9 million available for rural-safety projects.

Van Zyl added that these funds were “a drop in the ocean given the scale and cost of agricultural crime to the sector”.

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The funds had been allocated to farmer associations in North West, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, and the Free State.

“In 2018 alone, the total cost of agricultural crime exceeded R7,72 billion. Violence and crime pose an enormous problem that has a negative impact on food security and agricultural investment,” he said.

Since the trust fund’s inception in 1999, it had contributed more than R16 million to rural-safety initiatives, thanks to donations from the private sector, according to Van Zyl.

“Most of the funding requests from farmer associations have been for the installation or expansion of [security] camera systems. “These cover large parts of rural areas, and their blanket coverage provides valuable information for the investigation of criminal activities,” he said.

Anton Botha, a grain and red meat producer near Bultfontein in the Free State, said that while he appreciated the work carried out by the trust, it was “a national disgrace that [farmers] were forced to take over the role of the state in an effort to defend and protect themselves against an ever-increasing wave of criminality”.

“Over the past two months, I’ve lost sheep valued at hundreds of thousands of rands to stock thieves, and mine is not an isolated case.

“[In addition to] financial losses, the spike in violence and the brazenness of the perpetrators have a terribly negative impact on the emotional well-being of farmers, their families and workers,” Botha told Farmer’s Weekly.