Six farm attacks reported in 72 hours at the start of this week have again put the spotlight on rural security, or the lack of it.
In reaction Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow deputy police minister Dianne Kohler Barnard said the latest attacks made it clear the SA Police Service (SAPS) rural safety strategy is “a dismal failure”.
“The strategy has failed because police stations in the most hard-hit rural areas are both under-staffed and under-resourced. It needs to be overhauled.”
She maintains specialised SAPS units, including ones tasked specifically with rural safety, are needed as this is widely seen as one of the internationally accepted best practices most likely to curb the spread of violent crime.
“Police Minister Bheki Cele must show decisive leadership and deal with the high crime rate, devising ways and means by which South African society’s most vulnerable members – the women and children living in deep rural areas – will be adequately protected,” she said.
Kohler Barnard wants the Minister, among others, to prioritise the introduction of specialised units including a well-resourced and highly trained national rural safety unit.
According to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) all nine South Africa’s provinces experienced a rise in armed robberies since 2012 with the rural provinces of Mpumalanga, North West, Northern Cape and the Free State recording some of the biggest increases.
“This makes it not surprising that those involved in farming, commercial or otherwise, will be negatively affected,” the Pretoria-based think-tank said.
It also pointed out a lack of official police information about rural murders and attacks saw the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU) establish a capability to monitor farm attacks and murders. AfriForum also developed its own capacity for recording farm attacks and murders.
In August last year FFF Plus leader, Dr Pieter Groenewald, submitted a private member’s motion in Parliament asking for “drastic steps” to be taken by the police service to improve rural protection.
This saw then Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, meet with TAU in what was said to be “part of ongoing engagements with different stakeholders in South Africa’s agricultural community to curb farm attacks and murders”.
As far as defenceWeb can ascertain there has not been any official statement from Minister Cele on rural security as yet.