Free State rural security not up to scratch

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Rural security as supplied by police in South Africa’s central province – Free State – is nowhere near able and possibly even willing to protect and safeguard the agricultural community.

This is one conclusion from an oversight visit conducted in Free State this week by a Democratic Alliance (DA) delegation. Under the leadership of the party’s agriculture minister in Western Cape, Ivan Meyer, it included Free State opposition leader Roy Jankielsohn.

“The visit emphasised the criminal justice system’s failure to protect farmers, farmworkers and farm dwellers from crime,” they said in a joint statement post the visit adding the reason for setting it up was to compare provincial endeavours to ensure safety and security for rural communities in both provinces.

“Not only are SAPS (SA Police Service) resources restricted, but there are allegations of complicity between senior police officials and crime syndicates. The recent arrest of the acting station commander at Tweeling for alleged stock theft by a private security company contracted by farmers supports this view,” according to the joint statement.

“During a meeting with Free State farmers, the delegation was informed cross-border crime remains a serious and costly problem. The visit to the Lesotho border with Free State, between Clarens and Fouriesburg, highlighted the porousness of South Africa’s borders.

“The border has no fence and no other visible measures to combat cross-border crime. Although the SANDF is deployed along the border, they are too few to make any meaningful contribution in visible policing. The Caledon River with little water in it during winter months is no barrier to illegal immigrants or would-be criminals.”

Farmers are taking security into their own hands and are putting up security cameras and doing patrols along the border.

“These initiatives are noteworthy and should be supported by national government. Other government initiatives to improve rural safety should include specialised rural safety units, crime-fighting drones and technology to enhance visible policing,” their statement reads.