Crime in its widest form is an undeniable component of everyday South African life in both rural and urban areas with ongoing announcements and launches of campaigns to stop – or slow down – specific criminal acts.
Increasing incidents of rural crime ranging from murder and assault through to livestock and other property theft has long been a concern for representative agricultural organisations and certain political parties.
One of these organisations – the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU) – feels the lack of action and reaction by police to rural crime is not working and launched an electronic campaign to eject Police Minister Bheki Cele from office.
The campaign comes at the same time as the Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal reports another farm attack in the province. The attack, at Bishopstowe outside Pietermaritzburg, saw a farmer respond reportedly shooting and killing one of two suspects who assaulted him and his wife.
Martin Meyer, party provincial spokesman for agriculture and rural development, said the attack was another indication of a deteriorating safety situation in rural KwaZulu-Natal.
“It will improve only if there is a concerted effort by police and communities,” he said pointing out “the Bishopstowe community and security companies go above and beyond what can be expected of them, using patrols and drones to find and apprehend suspects involved in the latest incident”.
“Regrettably the lacklustre response from police leaves a lot to be desired. The DA does not believe claims by officers from Bishopstowe police station – that they do not have sufficient vehicles to deal with complaints – holds water.
“This after a recent written provincial parliamentary reply to questions submitted by the DA, in which the MEC for Community Safety and Liaison Bheki Ntuli indicates Bishopstowe is one of the few rural police stations that has more vehicles than required,” Martin said.
The Pretoria-headquartered TAU says its campaign to remove Cele from office centres on four points.
These are that police cannot track their own weapons which go missing; an estimated eight million items of evidence are missing on the current police minister’s watch; detectives have to pay their own way for equipment and transport and a SA Police Service brigadier based in KwaZulu-Natal was promoted to major general after 98 weapons (presumably firearms) he was responsible for allegedly went missing.
When these are added to Cele’s list of wrongdoings, the TAU says it’s time from him to go.
Top of that list is him being investigated and suspended as national police commissioner in 2011 in connection with charges of corruption and mismanagement. He was dismissed as South Africa’s top cop two years later and returned to public life as then president Jacob Zuma’s police minister in 2018.