Support rural safety in the festive season and beyond
All stakeholders in the agricultural sector must work together to combat the unacceptable level of crime farm communities are facing, especially during the festive season. On November 2, a group of concerned stakeholders came together in Pretoria to share ideas on how to tackle rural safety. During this meeting, the Agri Sector Unity Forum (Asuf) was tasked with forming an inclusive subcommittee to facilitate coordinated efforts between farming communities, service providers and other stakeholders to combat crime. Asuf is an inclusive, representative body comprising of Agri SA, the African Farmers’ Union (Afasa), the National African Farmers’ Union (Nafu) and the TAU SA.
Accordingly, Asuf recently held a meeting in Centurion to discuss the safety of all farmers, farm workers and rural communities. Japie Grobler, chairperson of Asuf, called on all farmers and farm workers to work closely with the police and their neighbours to bring an end to crime and to ensure a safe environment for everyone. Grobler also called on the public to financially support the Agri Securitas Trust Fund in their efforts to secure farming communities.
Farmer unions need cameras, drones, two-way radios and other technologies to help them to advance the safety of farming communities. Over the years, Agri Securitas has played a huge role in delivering a range of practical interventions to advance the safety of farmers and farm workers.
“Criminals pose a huge threat to food security and ultimately socio-economic stability,” says Grobler. “Extra precaution, high levels of vigilance and the establishment of collaborative networks at grass roots level between farmers and the police and amongst farmers are therefore of critical importance – especially during the festive period.”
Grobler commends the establishment of rural safety partnerships between various organised agricultural organisations in certain provinces and their efforts to stop crime and apprehend criminals. He welcomes the efforts by a wide array of stakeholders to bring about a safe rural environment within the ambit of the law.
Regardless of their farm output, ethnicity or gender, farmers and farm workers are continuously targeted by unscrupulous criminals. Criminals have no regard for the human and constitutional rights of farmers and their workers, their contribution to food security, job creation and the economic advancement of local communities.
The levels of crime on farms in South Africa are above international averages. The direct and indirect costs of crime to individuals, families, neighbourhoods, business, government and the economy pose a serious threat to food security and socio-economic stability. It causes a great financial loss, breakdown of trust relationships between local communities and instigates fear. Victims of crime also live with untold trauma and lasting physical and psychological scars.
The situation has become untenable. Criminals become more brazen by the day. Not only do they target and raid livestock, farm produce and infrastructure of commercial, emerging and subsistence farmers, but they are also brutalising and killing farmers, their family members and farm workers. In some instances, livestock is brutalised and maimed while still alive.
Asuf plans on arranging meetings with the Minister of Police and Cabinet in due course and will keep the public informed about the outcomes of these meetings and the actions that will follow.
Issued by Agri SA, Directorate: Corporate Liaison on behalf of Asuf
Mr Japie Grobler, Chairperson, Asuf, 0828258018
Christo van der Rheede, Secretariat Asuf, 012-643 3400 of 083 380 3492