A groundbreaking meeting and a first step to addressing safety and crime in rural areas at a higher level. That is how Jakkals le Roux, chairman of the Rural Safety Committee at Free State Agriculture (FSA), described an important meeting between organised agriculture and Fidelity ADT.

Lees dit in Afrikaans.

The aim of the meeting held between Fidelity ADT, FSA, Agri Northern Cape, the Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (RPO) in the Free State and Northern Cape, and Agri SA, was to address issues of greater safety and combating crime relating to the commercial agricultural sector in the Free State and Northern Cape. The prevention of serious violent and property-related crimes form part of this. The meeting took place on 29 April 2019 at the Middelwater Plaas Hotel outside Bloemfontein.

A win-win situation for all involved

Tommie Esterhuyse, chairperson of Agri SA’s Centre of Excellence: Rural Safety, said the involvement and expansion of Fidelity ADT’s rural footprint, in conjunction with farmers, will lead to a “win-win situation” in all areas. Esterhuyse is also vice president of FSA.

Fidelity ADT aims to expand collaboration and partnerships in agricultural communities in the two provinces by promoting collaboration between existing farm guards and Fidelity ADT control rooms. Wahl Bartmann, chief executive officer of the Fidelity Services Group, and his team of experts attended the meeting. All regional safety representatives of FSA, delegates from Agri Northern Cape and the RPO were also present.

Technology and information flow hold the key

The increase in especially property related crimes on agricultural land, of which stock theft is the biggest organised crime, will be addressed through greater technological aids, improved information flow and greater access to private security.

The integration of camera systems and information from existing farm guards, the identification of high crime areas, as well as the training of members of agricultural associations and area offices of organised agricultural structures, were discussed.

According to Le Roux, a task team has been set up to meet on a monthly basis to discuss progress with implementation, the flow of information and aspects addressed at integrating safety and crimes with improved technological tools and also to do a needs assessment.

Actions aimed at boosting safety

All actions are undertaken in conjunction with the South African Police Service (SAPS), within the framework of the revised Rural Safety Strategy.

One of them, which will be launched shortly, is integrated meetings with all farm guards, security companies and the SAPS involved in rural and agricultural communities in safety and crime within organised agriculture structures.

Joe Scholtz and Johann Stadler, respectively from the RPO’s Stock Theft Prevention Forums in Agri Northern Cape and the Free State, are convinced this agreement will empower agricultural communities to improve their service, engagement and integration.

Agri Securitas’s funding of technology systems in high-crime areas in rural regions was also a high priority at the meeting.

“This is not just a hands-on issue that benefits rural communities, but underlines the seriousness with which rural crime should be addressed,” Esterhuyse said. “The involvement of ground-level structures, which contribute to the success of preventing and combating rural crime, cannot be over-emphasised. Because safety starts with yourself.” – Press release, Free State Agriculture

Click here to read more about the initial agreement between Fidelity ADT & Agri SA.