Yesterday, 6 July 2020, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer chaired the quarterly meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Rural Safety. The meeting comes amid reports that the Western Cape is experiencing an increase in farm attacks.
Minister Meyer expressed his concern that following no incidences in April and May three farm attacks occurred over the past three weeks.
Minister Meyer: "The IMC also received progress reports on the court watching briefs involving rural and farm attacks in the Western Cape. We have systems in place to ensure that justice will be done in cases involving farms attacks."
Meyer also expressed his satisfaction with the progress of the SAPS Rural Safety Priority Committee and welcomed the extension of rural safety units to more Police Stations in the Western Cape.
Meyer: "The Western Cape is responsible for 45% of South Africa's agricultural exports. An attack is not only an attack on the dignity of our farmers and farmworkers, but also an attack on the economy of SA. We desperately need farmers for our economic recovery post-COVID-19."
"We intend to forge ahead with plans to ensure that farmers, farmworkers and rural communities who are the backbone of our agricultural economy, are safe," said Meyer.
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture received more than twenty proposals from various stakeholders in response to the public call for proposals to deal with rural crime. Proposals range from improved law enforcement, police visibility and personal security guards to information sharing, the development of databases, job creation, alcohol and drug abuse, education, CCTV cameras on farms and rural transport nodes and drone technology. Minister Meyer highlighted that rural safety needs to be managed in an integrated way.
Meyer: "The Department of Community Safety is playing a key critical role in integrating and strengthening the Rural Safety Plan at a District level." Echoing Meyer's sentiments Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, Minister Albert Fritz is encouraging farm watches to become accredited.
Minister Fritz: "I call on all farm watches operating in rural and peri-urban communities to approach the Department of Community Safety to become an accredited Neighbourhood Watch (NHW). To date, thirteen farm watches have been accredited as NHWs. Once approved for accreditation, NHWs become eligible for resourcing, training and funding. There are many benefits to becoming an accredited NHW."
Minister Fritz continued, "When an NHW is approved and accredited, they receive a "Starter Kit" consisting of reflective vests, torches, strobe lights for the vehicles, magnetic decals, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, whistles and a storage box. Also, the Department allocates a maximum amount of R10 000 to each accredited NHW, subject to the completion of the relevant documentation."
The Technical Committee on Rural Safety will now forge ahead with plans to host a Rural Safety Workshop to improve safety in rural communities and to finalise the base-line study on the causes of rural crime, "The IMC on rural safety has today resolved to set up a Rural Safety Desk in the Western Cape Department of Agriculture. We will also develop a dashboard to track cases involving rural safety. We do this to protect our farmers and farmworkers in the Western Cape" concluded Meyer.