Rural Safety Strategy is yielding good results

Peter Mashala’s opinion entitled ‘The scourge that must be stopped’ (5 October, pg 36) cannot go unchallenged.

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The South African Police Service (SAPS) would like to draw Mr Mashala’s attention to the rural safety article in Farmer’s Weekly (28 September, pg 44), and the fact that on 15 July 2011, the minister of police officially launched the Rural Safety Strategy in the Free State, for implementation and roll out to provincial level until 2014. The strategy has yielded good results since its launch.

It was developed after government had prioritised rural crimes, including stock theft and farm murders. In most cases, these crimes are triggered by the high level of poverty and unemployment in rural communities. One could also acknowledge that
policing, especially the policing of farming communities, is a challenge, not only because of the remoteness but the inaccessibility of roads, and the fact that rural police stations are often responsible for vast areas.

The establishment of synergy among farmers, the police, other departments and the broader rural community is imperative.
Now that the SAPS has been tasked with the responsibility that the SANDF had previously (after the phasing out of the commando units), the Rural Safety Strategy is in place to address the challenges faced by rural communities.

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This strategy continues to yield positive results. Recently in De Aar in Northern Cape, a 55-year-old commercial farmer, Awie Horn, who had been a victim of stock theft with his two fellow farmers in the area, could not conceal his excitement and appreciation of the wonderful work done by the police when their stolen livestock was recovered and handed back to them. This happened after 24 sheep, (four Merinos and 20 Dorpers) stolen between 21 and 30 September were recovered on 2 October during an intelligence driven operation by De Aar Stock Theft police.

As a result of the operation, eight suspects were arrested and will be appearing in court. There are many similar incidents one could refer to. Participation of all stakeholders in the farming community is seen as key to enhance rural safety in order to eradicate all rural crimes, as opposed to only beefing-up the sentences as suggested by Mr Mashala. Let’s all rally behind the Rural Safety Strategy for the safety of all rural communities.