Integration of  security technologies is now the focus as the number of accredited farm and neighbourhood watches continue to grow

On the 6th of July 2022, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, chaired the Western Cape  Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) quarterly meeting on Rural Safety at Elsenburg, Stellenbosch.

The committee received progress reports on integrating systems to optimise technology,  support and recognition for neighbourhood and farm watch use. In addition, I welcomed the news of the partnership and collaborative nature in which SAPS, the Western Cape Government and community structures are working towards advancing rural safety.

The key message coming out of the meeting was that collaboration and partnerships were the key ingredients to fighting crime.

A further 174  neighbourhood and farm watches have been accredited, bringing the total to 498 operating across the Western Cape Cape. At the same time, safety partners, including the Provincial and District Disaster Management Centres, private security umbrella associations and organised agriculture, are actively engaged in enhancing rural safety.

Said Minister Meyer: “The Western Cape has worked hard to implement the Provincial Rural Safety Plan, which requires the government to form partnerships with the South African Police Service, Neighbourhood and Farm Watches, the private sector and any other structure that can contribute towards making our rural communities safer.”

The Western Cape is the only Province to have developed and implemented a Provincial Rural Safety Plan.   In addition, the plan is actively developed and supported by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture.

Minister Meyer continued: “As the Minister of Agriculture in the Western Cape, I, with the support of my colleague, the Western Cape Minister of Police Oversight and Community Safety, Reagan Allan, am taking a firm lead in ensuring that rural communities are safe. For this reason, we have developed technologies such as our rural safety desk and our rural safety monitoring dashboard.”

“The next step is integrating the various safety/security technologies to support rural safety. I am pleased with the progress in this regard as an integrated digital platform between all law enforcement agencies will  improve the coordination of rural safety.”

“We are the only Province that has hosted a rural safety summit. The summit brought together all roleplayers to consolidate a cohesive plan to fight rural crime,” adds Meyer.

Western Cape Minister of Police Oversight and Community Safety, Reagen Allan, who attended the meeting for the first time since his appointment, said:

“The IMC also received progress reports on the court watching briefs involving rural and farm attacks in the Western Cape. We have systems to ensure that justice will be served in cases involving farm attacks and murders. Rural communities will never be regarded as the Western Cape Government’s stepchild, which is part of why we’re working closely with the Department of Agriculture. We want to assure residents that we will continue prioritising the rural safety agenda.”

Minister Allen added: “We’ve seen that as we address crime in one area, it’s displaced to another, particularly rural areas. Currently, 47% of the so-called ‘known drug houses’ are located outside the Cape Metro. We’ve been informed that drug dealers who might be in the spotlight are making rural communities their new homes. All criminals throughout our Province should feel uncomfortable. I want to call on our rural communities to join us in the fight against those seeking to commit any crime. Through joint efforts, like we’re doing with the Department of Agriculture, we’re working hard to ensure that we meet our main goal: to halve the murder rate by 2029.”

Minister Meyer continues: “The Western Cape is responsible for 53% of South Africa’s agricultural exports.  An attack on the dignity of our farmers and agri-workers is also an attack on the economy of SA. We desperately need farmers for our economic recovery post-Covid-19.”

“We will continue to forge ahead with plans to ensure that farmers, farmworkers and rural communities who are the backbone of our agricultural economy, are safe. The Western Cape Government and all its agencies and partners are doing their utmost to protect farmers, producers, agri workers and our rural communities. Safety is our business, and I want to thank all our partners for making the rural areas safer”, concluded Meyer.

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