The National Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS), General Khehla John Sitole, together with other senior officers, recently engaged in a meeting with Agri SA, TLU SA and AfriForum in Pretoria in an effort to address matters of rural safety.

All parties engaged in robust discussions regarding mutual trust, a reservist system, a rural safety summit, and cross-border crime affecting the farming community. The economics of policing were also highlighted.

The national commissioner has once again reiterated the unwavering commitment of the SAPS to prioritise crimes in rural areas both proactively and reactively.

Establishing joint rural safety command centres

The meeting agreed to formalise the establishment of the national and local joint rural safety command centres. Consequently, this will realise an integration of personnel and resources as well as the use of helicopters and drones.

These centres will jointly implement the operational plan of the Rural Safety Strategy. In addition, these centres will address issues of mutual trust and achieve the ultimate objective of significantly reducing crime in rural areas.

Customising community policing

In terms of fighting crime in rural communities, including farm attacks, through visibility the meeting further agreed that it is imperative to customise community policing through the establishment of community-based mounted units. These units include the Royal Reserve Police Service as part of the traditional policing concept, as well as tourism reservists. Emphasis was also placed on addressing challenges within task teams.

The national commissioner further reiterated the SAPS’s turnaround vision for comprehensive rural development. It aims to “combat stock theft and farm attacks and implement the Rural Safety Strategy that focuses on rural safety, infrastructure and a rural safety framework”.

“The implementation of stabilisation interventions in hotspot areas is critical to ensuring an effective proactive approach,” said general Sitole.

Cross-border crime

Cross-border crime that affects the farming community was discussed. Upgrading the resources of police stations at the border, improving intelligence and establishing cross-border liaison committees were also emphasised. “Crime intelligence will enhance the approach in determining the hotspot areas through its continued participation in priority committee meetings in all levels of policing, as well as the establishment of a rural safety analysis desk,” added general Sitole.

The meeting agreed that an integrated team would urgently address the security concerns in the Tlakgameng area in North West, among others.

This high-level committee will convene quarterly to monitor the progress of the implementation of the Rural Safety Strategy and decisions taken at previous meetings. – Press release, National Commissioner of Police, Agri SA, TLU SA and AfriForum