SAPS rural safety strategy needs community commitment to work – Joemat-Pettersson

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In the wake of a SA Police Service (SAPS) presentation to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police (POP), its chair maintains community mobilisation is a “cornerstone” of rural safety, opining that a lack of implementation is affecting the effectiveness of the reviewed National Rural Safety Strategy (NRSS).

POP chair Tina Joemat-Pettersson, according to a Parliamentary Communication Service statement, sees “effective and dynamic collaboration” with communities in far-flung areas as essential to improving safety and security in South Africa’s rural districts.

She welcomed an increase in police numbers for rural areas using some of the 10 000 strong intake of student constables in 2022/23, adding the “challenge to effectively implement the NRSS remained”. This is ascribed to lack of capacity, particularly as regards crime intelligence, to drive the intelligence-led NRSS.

The POP highlighted the importance of adequate required resources, including vehicles, to ensure rapid response to “situations in far-flung areas”.

That the SAPS plans to acquire unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and train officers to use them was noted and welcomed by Joemat-Pettersson’s committee. Technology is seen as a force multiplier and improves effectiveness.

Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow police minister Andrew Whitfield was more critical, saying the SAPS was “dragging its feet” on NRSS implementation.

“There has been a spate of farm murders, farm robberies, mass killings in rural villages and stock theft has been allowed to run rampant in rural areas,” he said.

To support this, he quoted 2021/22 crime statistics showing, among others, over 25 000 cases of stock theft, equating to 68 a day. “In the first three quarters of 2022/23, 21 244 stock theft cases were reported (77.8 cases a day),” he said.

Whitfield further pointed out 808 police stations out of 1 155 implemented NRSS with 63 stations partially implementing it four years after launch.

“In Northern Cape, more than half SAPS stations have not yet implemented the NRSS. In KwaZulu-Natal, 23% of SAPS stations have not yet implemented it. Of the top 30 police stations for reported stock theft, 13 of are in KwaZulu-Natal.

“More proof of lack of NRSS implementation around the country is only 34% of all stock thefts have led to arrests with the conviction rate likely to be even lower,” a DA statement has Whitfield saying.