Cape Town — An inter-ministerial committee on rural safety, which incorporates a technical committee, is placing its hopes in technology to tackle security issues on farms, says Western Cape Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer.
Meyer said: “These structures incorporate key stakeholders involved in overseeing an integrated response on rural safety.”
“The technical committee headed by Darryl Jacobs, deputy director-general at the provincial Department of Agriculture, has developed a comprehensive joint plan which incorporates the tracking of farm attacks through a spatial dashboard and using the trend analysis to identify the rural crime hot spots for appropriate deployment,” said Meyer.
“Key elements of the provincial plan include improving rural safety plans for farms, improving relationships with the farming and rural community, and establishing a system that will address crime in rural areas.”
“The provincial cabinet approved the inter-ministerial committee on rural safety, as well as the technical committee,” said Meyer.
“SAPS and the criminal justice system are central to the successful roll-out of the plan. At the same time, the court-watching brief unit has been instrumental in strengthening the arm of prosecutors through advice and advocacy.”
“The province is already steaming ahead with the implementation of the rural safety plan,” said Meyer.
During a recent webinar, Meyer said: “Fifty percent of all South African exports go to the African continent. Therefore, we must understand that if we kill farmers and farmworkers in South Africa, we are creating food insecurity and political instability on the African continent.”
Chairperson of the legislature’s standing committee on agriculture, Andricus van der Westhuizen, said the establishment of the interdepartmental committee comes as an advantage and a great step forward for farmers.
“This is an effort to provide much-needed assistance in terms of safety to farms as the number of attacks and murders have escalated,” said Van der Westhuizen.
“While the interdepartmental committee will serve as a mechanism, it is important to note that SAPS, the judicial system, local police officers and court watches will all have an integral role in the safety of farmers.
’’As safety is not one sole entity’s responsibility, it is important that we serve as a mechanism to strengthen these relationships.”
Parliament’s portfolio committee on agriculture, land reform and rural development chairperson, Zwelivelile Mandela, said: “Attacks on farms threaten the food security, employment figures and the economy of our country. Both farmworkers and farm owners are of equal importance in the agricultural chain.”
Meanwhile, the national inter-ministerial committee on land reform headed by Deputy President David Mabuza recently asked Police Minister Bheki Cele to launch an in-depth investigation into the underlying causes of farm attacks and murders.