EC EMERGING FARMERS NEED A BORDER AND RURAL SAFETY DIVISION

The successful detainment of livestock thieves by Mount Fletcher farmers (Daily Dispatch: Farmers rally against theft, 19 June) is a sign that a new Border and Rural Safety Division in the SAPS would provide more support to livestock farmers affected by stock theft than any other safety plan currently in place.

The new Division is a fundamental part of the DA’s Rural Safety policy that will be submitted to Eastern Cape Police Commissioner, Celiwe Binta, this week.

DA RURAL SAFETY POLICY

The reason why farmers in Mount Fletcher have expressed a lack of confidence in the police to stop the millions of Rands they are losing annually to stock theft, is because safety operations are currently piecemeal and reactionary.

The Rural Safety policy would assist Eastern Cape farmers through:

  • A specialized Rural Safety Division within the police
  • Border units with advanced paramilitary training, equipment and aerial mobility
  • A Rural Intelligence Centre solely dedicated to monitoring
  • Rural reaction units that can be deployed to livestock hotspots on a rotational basis
  • More support for the good work farmers are already doing to protect their livelihoods in the form of structured police reservist programmes and Community Policing Forums (CPFs).

The responsiveness, knowledge and skills of the police force to combat stock theft will be massively improved through a fully-trained and equipped division like this.

While Eastern Cape police have managed to stage some successful counters to criminal activity, prevention is better than the isolated recovery of stock already stolen.

Most importantly, collaboration between reservists, CPFs and the police will create a network that can prevent stock. Initiatives like the Peace Committee in Mount Fletcher, a farmer-driven safety group, would benefit from formalized cooperation such as this.

Given that much of the crime is generated through cross-border movements from Lesotho, the only way to crackdown on this would be to have a dedicated border unit to patrol hotspot areas by land and air.

The rural reaction units can be deployed to the identified areas of Mqanduli, Tsolo, Bityi and elsewhere. These units would be supported by a full-time rural intelligence centre that would provide a more focused, full-time approach to stock theft than the various intelligence initiatives currently underway.

The livelihoods of too many people in the Eastern Cape are threatened