The South African Police Service (SAPS) has procured 1385 new vehicles in the present and last state financial year to effectively enable police to fight crime in rural areas. So says Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa in reference to a Parliamentary reply on whether the SAPS has taken any steps to solve the problem of the lack of police transport in rural areas which affects policing.
The police ministry says rural areas are not just limited to farms but encompass broad demographic areas across the country, ranging from the remotest of areas which may not be having proper road infrastructure to some of the worst economically affected areas. The vehicles purchased from April 1, 2009 to December 7, 2010 range from high-powered 4×4 to high-tech equipped vans and sedans.
“We have always emphasised through our engagements with different sectors of rural communities in developing and implementing a rural safety plan; that one of the focus areas will be around provision of adequate police transport in these areas, Mthethwa says. “Where they were needed, appropriate vehicles suitable for the terrain were allocated to rural areas and in cases where it was necessary, new suitable vehicles have been purchased and ordered,” added the minister.
“The main objective with the rural safety plan is to respond to the safety and security needs of the rural community within South Africa but also ensure an effective and sustainable policing approach. Some of the areas did not have proper road infrastructure as such required us to be smarter in our deployment tactics. Furthermore, research conducted by the department points that police visibility (whether through police personnel or vehicles moving around certain areas) does act as a deterrent against crime. Firstly, it gives society more hope for their safety and security and secondly, distracts any planning or commission of criminality by scoundrels.
“Some of the most common benefits of deploying these vehicles are already being realised, with crime analysis showing that crime levels are beginning to stabilise. “While we are encouraged by the shift in trends, more still need to be done in this area. As we said, unless we begin to utilize these available resources effectively, we shall not win this war in rural areas. We are now beginning to deploy our resources evenly and effectively and this is our new way of doing things, innovatively and speedily.”