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Pretoria - The South African Police Service (SAPS) is looking into increasing the capacity needed to effectively combat crime in rural and farming communities, and will in this financial year embark on a recruitment drive to enlist police reservists, National Commissioner Lt-Gen Khehla John Sitole said on Sunday.

Sitole earlier this month led a delegation of SAPS senior managers to a meeting with the Transvaal Agricultural Union South Africa (TAU SA) to discuss matters of mutual interest pertaining to rural safety and the ongoing implementation of the rural safety strategy, Sitole's office said in a statement.

The SAPS rural safety strategy strove to address rural safety as an integrated day-to-day policing approach by creating a safe and secure rural environment. This strategy comprised of a farm safety plan designed for farms to ensure a collective rapid response between stakeholders to address all safety and security issues and incidents affecting the agricultural community. The strategy also envisaged providing a safe and secure rural environment to support food security, social, and economic development. 

This was in line with the national development plan’s (NDP) chapter 12 “Building Safer Communities” with the heading “Rural Safety”, which stated that access to justice and the safety of rural and farming communities demanded special attention.

SAPS’s partnership with TAU SA, which also strove to ensure the safety and security of commercial farmers in a sustainable manner on the land they worked, was supported by the NDP’s call to eradicate fear of crime through effective, coordinated responses of the police, business, community, and civil society, the statement said.

"SAPS and TAU SA have been in a sustainable partnership since 1993 and their meeting with the national commissioner was to recognise and reaffirm their support in the ongoing fight against crime in rural and farming communities," it said.

The SAPS recognised and appreciated the participation of TAU SA in drafting the current revised rural safety strategy as well as their continued support in implementation of the strategy.

The strategy was being implemented through an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach, including mobilisation of the rural community in creating a safe and secure, crime-free environment, which was conducive to food security, the reduction of serious and violent crime, and stock theft prevention, as well as social and economic stability.

Sitole had reiterated the SAPS’s turnaround vision outcome seven - comprehensive rural development , which stated “The combating of stock theft and farm attacks, implementation of the rural safety strategy which focuses on rural safety, infrastructure and a rural safety framework”.

“We are looking into increasing the capacity needed to effectively combat crime in rural and farming communities and we will, during this financial year, embark on a recruitment drive to enlist police reservists,” Sitole said.

African News Agency (ANA)