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Rural Safety Dashboard

TWELVE POINT PLAN TO ADDRESS RURAL SAFETY

By Elise-Marie Steenkamp

In an attempt to facilitate a safe, protected and secure agricultural environment and farming community, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDA) shared a 12-point rural safety action plan at a recent stakeholder engagement session. This action plan was also communicated to the members of the Technical Rural Safety Committee, which is chaired by Darryl Jacobs, Deputy Director-General of the WCDA.

According to Douglas Chitepo, WCDA’s Acting Chief Director: Rural Development, inadequate rural safety and security remains a major concern for farmers and agri-workers alike. “The heightened level of crime reported in these areas will contribute negatively towards the agricultural growth and job opportunities. The agricultural sector is one of the economic pillars in South Africa and therefore it is crucial to ensure safety and the sustainable development of the agricultural sector.”

Chitepo said that at the core of the problem is a prevalence of crime and lawlessness and a general decline of rural safety. “High crime levels and an increase in farm attacks compromises and undermines the safety of producers and agri-workers alike. This, combined with inadequate rural safety structures to deter criminal activities have an adverse impact on job creation, impacts on food security and the ability to grow the economy.”

The 12-point action plan will look as follows:

  • Tracking of farm attacks through a Spatial Dashboard;
  • Using the trend analysis, identify the rural crime hotspots for appropriate deployment;
  • Support and advocacy of the Rural Safety Strategy of the SAPS, and strengthened partnership with SAPS;
  • Analyse and rollout District Safety Plans in consultation with the District Municipalities;
  • Encourage accreditation of Farm Watches;
  • Facilitate training of farm and neighbourhood watch members through the Department of Community Safety structures;
  • Network with all agencies and entities involved with Rural Safety, whether it be agricultural stakeholders, all spheres of government and NGOs involved in rural safety initiatives;
  • Address the root cause of community conflicts arising from high levels of unemployment of local residents, including engagement with Department of Home Affairs, and Department of Employment and Labour, on the ease of access of foreign nationals obtaining work permits for low skilled work;
  • Engage Transnet Freight Rail on shifting of transport of goods from road to rail in order to not only relieve congestion on roads but also mitigate the risk of angry communities from blocking key access routes, thus disrupting the logistics chain;
  • Replication of the Best Practice Farm Watch models such as the one used in Bonnievale;
  • Watching Brief Unit to monitor the status of farm attacks and oppose bail; and
  • Extensive use of integrated technological solutions as seen in Bergsig area.
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