The Ministry of Police and AgriSA will work together to develop a plan of action to create safety in farming communities.
“We must attend to farm killings as well as attacks… but equally, we must prevent any form of disruption with regard to production that takes place at the level of the farms,” Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Wednesday.
The Minister was addressing a media briefing at the South African Police Service (SAPS) headquarters in Tshwane on Wednesday. The briefing followed a meeting between the Minister and AgriSA to discuss the National Rural Safety Strategy.
“We are going to implement the plan of action that we will devise and we are going to make it public. Our programme of safety is to ensure that there is safety in rural areas, order and accessibility to the police in those areas,” Minister Mbalula said.
Once the plan has been put together, it will be approved by the Minister and a memorandum of understanding will be signed to concretise the action plan. It is expected that this will transpire in approximately two weeks.
The plan must include increased police visibility. SAPS further committed to sharpen its approach to rural safety and farmers must form an integral part of that approach.
A total of 1 181 police reservists have been enrolled for training and will be deployed across the rural areas.
“Reservist are a force multiplier in our strategy,” said Lieutenant-General Nobesuthu Masiye.
Minister Mbalula said farmers must interact with the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) with regards to planning, ensuring protection and preventing crime in all areas.
“We have an obligation to make sure that everybody’s safety and security is guaranteed, as it is required by the Constitution,” Minister Mbalula said.
AgriSA CEO Omri van Zyl said the Minister’s commitment of implementing a strategy where SAPS and AgriSA work closely together to benefit the farmers and farm workers is encouraging.
“Our farming communities are going through tough times at the moment and I think this partnership will help us to lift the spirit and the sense of security that we will have in our country, including rural areas.
“This boils down to creating a safe South Africa, creating a rural village where we can live in and creating an environment where farmers and South Africans can reinvest in the economy as well as an environment, where we can show progress and prosperity for our farmers and South Africans,” Van Zyl said.
The exploitation of foreign nationals by farmers was also raised at the meeting.
“AgriSA has explained to us that in their own policy, they educate farmers on labour relations. Where there are incidents of people doing things in an illegal manner… that can only increase criminality in farm areas because if you work with people who are unregistered in the Republic, it means those people commit crime by killing farmers or killing farm labourers. It is in the best interests of pursuing safety in the farms to get people registered,” Minister Mbalula said.
He said cheap labour is a short-lived achievement and it is not sustainable in the context of the country’s economy.