The Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, recently chaired the quarterly meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Rural Safety. The meeting comes amid reports that the Western Cape is experiencing an increase in farm attacks.

Dr Meyer expressed his concern that following no incidences in April and May three farm attacks occurred over the past three weeks.

“The IMC also received progress reports on the court watching briefs involving rural and farm attacks in the Western Cape. We have systems in place to ensure that justice will be done in cases involving farm attacks,” says Minister Meyer.

Watch an Afrikaans interview with Minister Meyer here:

SAPS rural safety committee progressing

Meyer also expressed his satisfaction with the progress of the SAPS Rural Safety Priority Committee and welcomed the extension of rural safety units to more police stations in the Western Cape.

Meyer: “The Western Cape is responsible for 45% of South Africa’s agricultural exports.  An attack is not only an attack on the dignity of our farmers and farm workers, but also the economy of South Africa. We desperately need farmers for our economic recovery post-COVID-19,” says Minister Meyer. “We intend to forge ahead with plans to ensure that farmers, farmworkers and rural communities, who are the backbone of our agricultural economy, are safe,” says Meyer.

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture received more than 20 proposals from various stakeholders in response to the public call for proposals to deal with rural crime. Proposals range from improved law enforcement, police visibility and personal security guards to information-sharing, the development of databases, job creation, alcohol and drug abuse, education, CCTV cameras on farms and rural transport nodes and drone technology.

Integrated management necessary

Minister Meyer highlighted that rural safety needs to be managed in an integrated way.

“The Department of Community Safety plays a critical role in integrating and strengthening the Rural Safety Plan at a district level,” says Meyer. Echoing Meyer’s sentiments, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, Minister Albert Fritz encourages farm watches to become accredited.

“I call on all farm watches operating in rural and peri-urban communities to approach the Department of Community Safety to become an accredited neighbourhood watch (NHW). To date, 13 farm watches have been accredited as NHWs. Once approved for accreditation, NHWs become eligible for resourcing, training and funding. There are many benefits to becoming an accredited NHW,” says Fritz.

Minister Fritz continues: “When an NHW is approved and accredited, they receive a “starter kit” consisting of reflective vests, torches, strobe lights for the vehicles, magnetic decals, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, whistles and a storage box. Also, the Department allocates a maximum amount of R10 000 to each accredited NHW, subject to the completion of the relevant documentation.”

For more information on the NHW Accreditation and Support Programme, please contact Neighbourhood.Watch@westerncape.gov.za.

Rural Safety Workshop in the works

The Technical Committee on Rural Safety will now forge ahead with plans to host a Rural Safety Workshop to improve safety in rural communities and to finalise the baseline study on the causes of rural crime.

“The IMC on rural safety has today resolved to set up a Rural Safety Desk in the Western Cape Department of Agriculture.  We will also develop a dashboard to track cases involving rural safety. We do this to protect our farmers and farmworkers in the Western Cape,” concluded Meyer. – Press release, Western Cape Government