National working committee established to ensure safer rural and farming communities

PARYS – A fifteen member national working committee has been established to ensure safer rural and farming communities. The committee was established during a two-day Rural Safety Summit hosted by the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the Free State from 27 – 28 June 2022.

The Summit brought together stakeholders in the farming community including agricultural unions, traditional leaders, farmers, farm workers, farm dwellers, farm worker’s associations as well as activists against farm murders.

Held under the theme “finding sustainable solutions towards safety in our rural communities” the gathering created a platform for both the farming community, the SAPS, other government departments and stakeholders to come together to monitor progress in implementing the National Rural Safety Strategy (NRSS).

The strategy which was launched in 2019 seeks to address challenges in rural and farming communities.

Amongst the challenges identified are farm attacks and killings, stock theft, undocumented farm workers, illegal land invasions and evictions as well as the labour rights of farm workers and dwellers.

During the Summit, delegates were divided into six commissions that sought to address these challenges.

The committee which comprises of various stakeholders in the farming and agricultural community will meet quarterly to assess and evaluate progress in preventing and combating these challenges with a view of ensuring safer rural and farming communities.

The National Commissioner of the SAPS, General Fannie Masemola says its crucial for the SAPS to forge relations and partnerships with all stakeholders to ensure crime is dealt with swiftly in rural areas in line with the National Rural Safety Strategy (NRSS).

“As SAPS we aim to build effective capacity and capability in rural areas, ensure accessibility of policing and improve service delivery to rural communities, improve policing infrastructure and resources in police stations in rural areas. Most importantly we must ensure community involvement and stakeholder collaboration”, said General Fannie Masemola.

The Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele has given the newly elected committee seven days to develop an action plan that will be tabled before Cabinet.

“Let’s all come together to develop a working document that will be presented in the form of a memorandum to Cabinet. This will ensure that all government departments and all stakeholders that have a role to play come on board to ensure that together we create safer rural and farming areas. We must make sure that we create a conducive working environment for subsistence and commercial farmers to ensure that there is no threat to food security in the country. A year from now, we need to report on progress. This is a shared responsibility”, said General Bheki Cele.

Forming part of the summit was the Deputy Minister of Police, Mr Cassel Mathale as well as the MEC of Police, Roads and Transport in the Free State, Mr William Bulwane, members of the Community Police Forums (CPF), SAPS management as well as members in the Visible Policing and Detective Service environments.