Kwanalu, the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union representing its members including farmers, rural members, commodity groups and agri-businesses in the province, has issued a statement noting the level of increased incidents of crime and criminal activity in rural areas, and has called on its members to increase their vigilance and to work together with the SAPS and private security forces.
“We are concerned with the recent spike in incidents in rural areas and the severe negative effects, and the impact this increase is having on farmers and those living in rural communities,” said CEO of Kwanalu, Sandy La Marque.
The increased incidents of crime include poaching, stock theft, crop theft, theft of farm implements, arson and crimes against individuals.
“We call on authorities to scale up their visibility and implement rural safety plans to protect our members,” said La Marque.
She said the National Rural Safety Strategy, which exists as a sound platform focusing on rural safety and security matters, needs to be an organic strategy that is constantly being refined and is reactive to these incidents.
“In KZN, we are fortunate to have a good working relationship with our Provincial SAPS Office and many of the security clusters and SAPS stations who prioritize farm attacks. This is vital and results in these serious cases being attended to, and for this we are very grateful,” said La Marque.
She however, identified shortcomings and challenges of the National Rural Safety Strategy; namely, a lack of rural patrols by the SAPS, a shortage of SAPS vehicles and a shortage of manpower at some SAPS stations, which together with the noted increase in the crimes related to socio-economic circumstances as well as an increase in service delivery protests, is placing pressure on the strategy.
La Marque has called on all local structures to work closely with the SAPS reporting all crimes in order for “hot spots” to be identified.
“Kwanalu works closely with the SAPS and we have for many years now formulated tips and guidelines for our members to utilize and implement in order to increase their security. We would like to encourage all people in rural communities to continually seek ways to improve their security at home and on their farms,” said La Marque.