Freedom Front Plus (FF+) leader Pieter Groenewald maintains the latest SA Police Service (SAPS) rural safety plan is “encouraging, but nothing will change if the words do not lead to action”.
He was cautiously optimistic about aspects of the plan, announced earlier this month by Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister, Thoko Didiza. This includes more involvement in planning by the agricultural sector in collaboration with police and the establishment of rural rapid response units.
Groenewald said the latest rural safety plan points out why previous similar plans failed. “The new plan is doomed to fail if lessons from the past are not taken to heart.”
Both the 2011/2012 and 2017/2018 plans were not fully implemented due to, among others, inadequate and unsustainable human and logistic resources in rural police districts and not recognising the importance of infrastructure, roads are specifically mentioned.
This, he said, is an admission the plans were not “well thought through and not practically feasible”. What held true for previous rural safety and security plans does for the just released one as well are the twin problems of money and manpower Groenewald said Police Minister Bheki Cele’s statement of a 60 000 understaffing in police officers.
Apart from the serious and violent crimes the agricultural sector has to endure it also finds itself on the receiving end of other crimes such as livestock and equipment theft. “These are just as difficult to police because of logistic, personnel and infrastructure problems,” Groenewald said.