492 farm attacks and 58 farm murders in 2013/14 - SAPS

In submission to SAHRC hearing police say violent incidents on farms are primarily crime related, in minimal instances can be linked to other malicious motives

SAPS presentation to the National Hearing: Safety and Security Challenges in Farm Communities, SA Human Rights Commission, October 6 2014

Purpose of Presentation

Present progress made by the South African Police Service since the 2003 and 2008 recommendations made by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

Respond to stakeholder questions included in the letter from the SAHRC addressed to the National Commissioner of the SAPS on 25 September 2014


Concerns by the SA Agricultural Union (AGRI SA) on increased farm attacks and murders in the farming community led to a Summit on Rural Safety on request of late President Nelson Mandela in 1998.

This culminated in the development and establishment of a Rural Protection Plan (RPP) to address the safety of the rural farming community. The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was made responsible for the implementation of the RPP and the former Commando Units played a major role in the implementation of the RPP.

 The aim of the RPP was to:-

Improve safety and security of farmers and farm workers as well as their families and visitors to farms.

Where attacks were carried out, ensure that perpetrators were arrested and prosecuted.

Ensure involvement of all stakeholders within the rural environment in a structured and coordinated manner through joint planning, joint operations, implementing preventative measures and monitoring of incidents.

The RPP comprised of two pillars:

Home and hearth protection

Area bound reaction forces (Commando Units)

Rural Safety Priority Committees were established to facilitate the above-mentioned process through Joint Operation and Intelligence Structure (JOINTS) to structures at all levels.

The role of Rural Safety Priority Committees was to coordinate the following activities amongst all role players:

All security related actions pertaining to rural protection

Establishment of factors that have a negative influence on the safety of the rural and farming community and promote and facilitate effective planning

Distribution of information to create awareness

Provisioning of feedback to all role players regarding the RPP

Monitoring and analysing of "attacks" on farms

In 2003, continued concerns about attacks and murders in the farming community led to the establishment of a Committee of Inquiry into farm attacks by the late Minister for Safety and Security, Minister Tshwete, as well as the SAHRC inquiry into human rights violations in the farming community. Both reports were tabled during 2003 with specific recommendation regarding rural safety issues.

In the 2003 State of the Nation Address then President Mbeki announced the phasing out of the SANDF Commando System and the creation of a new approach to safety in rural communities, including but not limited to the farming community. This announcement followed from inter alia the recommendations by the SAHRC.

The following mechanisms were put in place by the South African Police Service to replace the SANDF Commando System:

Implementation of Sector Policing

Establishment of Area Crime Combating Units for Rural Safety

Utilization of reservists

Increase in personnel levels at police stations

2003 SAHRC Recommendations

In its report in 2003 the SAHRC included the following recommendations:

All role players should consistently condemn all acts of violence perpetrated against members of farming communities

The challenges faced and perceptions held by farm dwellers that lead to under reporting of crime needs to be addressed. In this regard the Rural Victim Survey which is part of the Rural Protection Programme is welcomed

The SAPS should hold a summit under the auspices of the Farming Community Forum in which all relevant role players participate in order to address the current lack of representivity in terms of the RPP participants, forge a representative reflection as part of all rural protection issues that need addressing and take measures to address the experiences and perceptions of SAPS in rural areas.

Proactive and practical strategies are necessary through which the SAPS creates greater accountability amongst its members to handle complaints and cases of farm dwellers.

SAPS should engage with civil society to determine the root causes of perceptions re safety and work with communities to address the perceptions.

SAPS should compare the prevalence of crime perpetrated against women in farming communities to other communities. Should the trend of under reporting be confirmed, special steps should be taken through its rural safety programme to address this crime form.

Issues around access and participation in Community Police Forums need to be addressed.

Sector Policing and establishment of new categories of reservists are encouraged.

Further initiatives to recruit reservists from farming communities are encouraged.

The role of Traditional Leaders should be explored.

Violent crime in farming communities must be addressed in an inclusive and holistic manner.

Farm dwellers and their representatives need to be included in all levels to combat this crime.

The current structures to address crime need to extend the focus to include all forms of crime and ensure that there is equity in the resources allocated to the various crime forms.

Further efforts are necessary to address the challenges of creating representivity in the RPP and the structures created.

Land invasions must be publicly and consistently condemned as human rights violations when they occur.

Steps to control stock theft and prosecute those responsible are encouraged.

2008 SAHRC Recommendations

Further recommendations in respect rural safety was made by the SAHRC in 2008 including:

The need for an independent review on the effectiveness of Sector Policing in farming communities and recommendations iro practical and affordable ways in which it can be approved.

A request that SAPS report to SAHRC on how the recording of crime statistics in farming areas can be adjusted to distinguish between crimes perpetrated by criminals living off farm, reports of assault and abuse by employers, and "social crimes" which include assaults and abuses amongst and between farm dwellers.

That SAPS should take reasonable steps to ensure that all police officials are familiar with National Instructions on Domestic Violence and to examine ways to improve handling of domestic violence cases in farming areas.

SAPS to develop a strategy and set targets to significantly increase representation of farm dwellers within the police reserve and to ensure that reservist receive training on the Bill of Rights as part of their induction process.

SAPS actions in response to recommendations

During the State of the Nation Address in 2004, it was announced that the Commando System of the South African National Defence Force would be phased out.

This required that Rural Protection Plan had to be revisited to align it with structures within the South African Police Service.

Following completion of the phasing out of the Commando system during 2009, an assessment of the Rural Protection Plan was conducted jointly by all role players (SANDF, Agricultural Unions - NAFU, AGRI SA, TLU, Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs) to develop an operational policing strategy to ensure rural safety.

 The resulting new operational strategy was consulted with all internal and external role players and approved by the former Minister of Police and National Commissioner during a National Management Forum in 2011, for implementation from 2011 - 2014.

Current Situation: Aim of SAPS Rural Strategy

Principles: SAPS Rural Strategy

Current Situation: Implementation SAPS Rural Strategy: Strategy Pillars

Operational Approach

Multi-disciplinary Collaboration

Classification Police Stations






Eastern Cape





Free State

























North West





Northern Cape





Western Cape










Status: Overall Implementation







Eastern Cape






Free State






























North West






Northern Cape






Western Cape












SAPS actions in response to recommendations

Rural Safety Plans in place in the provinces as a tool to assist police stations to prevent crime in the rural and farming community as part of the Rural Safety Strategy.

 Rural Safety Priority Committees are functioning at national, provincial and cluster levels and all role players in the rural and farming community, departmental and civil society are involved in the committees (This includes the SANDF, Agricultural Unions - NAFU, AGRI SA, TLU-, Departments of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform, Traditional Affairs and all relevant units of the South African Police Service.)

 The Rural Safety Priority Committees meet on a quarterly basis to monitor incidents of violent crime in the rural community and to establish trends and new developments and plan interventions

 The priority committees are open to all stakeholders and do not operate behind closed doors. As such the priority committees present an opportunity for, inter alia, organised agriculture and farmers unions to keep their members briefed on security-related matters.

Operational information of crimes affecting the rural and farming community are shared during the Rural Safety Priority Committee meetings in order to promote awareness. Information in general indicated a constant decrease in crimes on farms and small holdings since 2006.

The definition of a "farm attack" was amended as follows, as it was acknowledged that attacks are not specifically directed against the residents of a farm but that it is mostly crime in general:

Acts of violence against person/s on farms and small holdings refer to acts aimed at person/s residing on, working on or visiting farms and small holdings, whether with the intent to murder, rape, rob or inflict bodily harm. In addition, all acts of violence against the infrastructure and property in the rural community aimed at disrupting legal farming activities as a commercial concern, whether the motive/s are related to ideology, land disputes, land issues, revenge, grievances, racist concerns or intimidation are included.

Community Policing Forums have been established at police stations, including stations in rural areas. The farming community, farmers and farm workers, participate in Community Policing Forums at station level, as well as in the Sector Forums, as part of Sector Policing.

Responsibilities of police stations

Create a multi-disciplinary operations model to prevent crime, involving all role players at local level and focussing in priority crimes including crimes against women and children.

Enforcement of legislation and ensure that all police stations comply with SAPS responsibilities in terms of legislation.

Providing community services and ensuring that all police stations provide a victim friendly service.

Optimally combat crime by means of implementing proactive and integrated policing approaches, such as sector policing.

Conduct visible policing by means of patrols to eliminate the desire and opportunity to commit crime in an area.

Reduce levels of public fear through more visible policing.

Ensure intelligence driven patrols in sectors and hot spots.

Obtain effective Crime Intelligence through the South African Police Service Crime Information Analysis Centre (CIAC).

Distribute Crime Intelligence to patrol officials on a daily basis.

Conduct intelligence driven operations.

Conduct road blocks based on analysis of available information.

Conduct joint high density operations.

Enhance public Safety Awareness.

Work closely with other institutions like the SANDF, Traffic Departments, Security Firms, Local Government, etc.

Stock theft pilot project

A Pilot Project to prevent and enhance the recovery of livestock and stock theft investigation was implemented during 2012 and 2013 in 5 police station areas (KwaZulu-Natal - Ladysmith, Eastern Cape - Tsolo, Free State - Harrismith, Mpumalanga - Amersfoort and North West - Wolmaranstad) based on the following operational concept:

Develop and capacitate police station in respect of Visible Policing and Detective Service functions.

Increase capacity within Stock Theft Investigation Units and align placement of Units with priority areas.

Extend mandate of existing response capacities at provincial level, such as TRT's, POP Units and Air Wing, to also respond to stock theft and other serious crime in rural areas.

Enhancement of a multi-disciplinary operational approach through Standard Operational Procedures by involving all role players and stakeholders.

Establishment of partnerships with Government Departments, NGOs and community structures to enhance community involvement.

Communication, raising awareness and education of the rural community in respect of responsible livestock ownership and safety.

Actions to address cross border Stock theft

A bilateral security strategy was developed to address stock theft on the borderline. This strategy provides for the following:

The evaluation of the various stock theft units to improve service delivery, the rate of recovery, the rate of detection and the rate of conviction. This is done by involving livestock owners (complainants) in stock theft operations (inland and internationally), as well as in other operational functions.

Regular bilateral meetings are held with the police in neighbouring states to address cross-border crime. Meetings are also held with peace committees and District Liaison Committees involving communities on both sides of the border.

All cross-border stock theft-related issues (operations and meetings) are reported to the Sub-regional Bureau of the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (SARPCCO) in Harare on a monthly basis. This Organisation is responsible for coordinating such actions between the various member countries.

Operational Information: 2010/2011 - 2013/2014 (Incidents of Violence on farms and smallholdings
















A manual data base is maintained where all incidents of violence on farms and small holdings are captured and analysed for sharing during the Rural Safety Priority Committees. A constant decrease has been experienced over the last years.

Operation Sizanani

A national multi-faceted and integrated rural safety operation involving all Government Departments and other role players is being implemented from 1 August 2014 to 31 October 2014 in all provinces to address the safety of the rural community and to address stock theft. The purpose of the operation is to:

Enhance education and awareness in respect of legislation relating to stock theft;

Enhance community involvement, trust and confidence;

Enhance availability of intelligence to support an intelligence drive approach

Combat and prevent serious crimes in the rural areas;

Stabilise hot-spot areas in the rural areas;

Address stock theft;

Improve cooperation and coordination amongst all internal and external role players;

Prioritise investigations for finalisation

SAPS Responsibilities: Land Invasions and Evictions

Divisional Directives clarifying the roles and responsibilities of members of the South African Police Service in respect of land invasions and eviction in terms of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act, 1997 (Act No 62 of 1997) were developed and distributed and was further included in the Rural Safety Strategy Implementation Toolkit for communication and adherence.

Involvement of Traditional Leadership in Safety and Security

A need was also identified to establish a collaborative partnership between the Department of Traditional Affairs and the South African Police Service to involve and empower Traditional Leaders in safety and security to give effect to government policies, strategies and legislative principles. A partnership was subsequently approved by the Directors General concerned and the Chief Executive Officer of the NHTL for implementation to:

Enhance inter-departmental collaboration;

Facilitate the involvement of Traditional Leadership Structures in safety and security; and

Promote an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach

Review: Sector Policing

It is recognized that the infrastructure in rural areas inhibits full implementation of sector policing but all efforts to bring policing closer to the community are being made. An assessment and review of Sector policing was recently conducted and minimum implementation criteria was developed to also enable police stations in rural areas to implement Sector Policing as policing approach. As part of the review process it was acknowledged that:

A "one size fits all" Sector Policing approach cannot be adopted.

Sector Policing is not the only operational policing methodology/tool and that police stations should be given discretion to determine which is the most suitable policing approach depending on the community they serve.

Some police stations, especially in deep rural areas policing station areas, cannot implement Sector Policing to the same standard as an urban police station with well-developed infrastructure and vastness of the area.

Sector Policing is not a sustainable policing approach if its success only depend on huge numbers of human and physical resources.

Sector Policing should be used as policing approach to encourage community mobilisation, interaction and building a culture of mutual cooperation and trust.

Crimes against women and children

Crime against women and children are prioritised by the South African Police and is included in the Annual Performance Plan of the South African Police Service.

SAPS includes a five day Domestic Violence Learning programme in basic training and continues to provide the same and the following programmes as part of in-service training:

Domestic Violence Learning Programme

Victim Empowerment Learning Programme

Vulnerable Children Learning Programme

First responders to Sexual Offences Learning programme.

In addition specialised training is also provided for investigators attached to Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units.

What is the relationship of the SAPS with private security firms in responding to criminal and violent incidents?

The private security industry be considered an potential force multiplier in supporting the fight against crime in our country.

A partnership was established between SAPS and the Private Security Regulating Authority (PSIRA) at strategic level to enhance cooperation, coordination and control, as well as sharing and exchange of knowledge and skills.

Working relationships further exist at local level between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and private security companies to strengthen joint operations in order for private security to act as the eyes and ears of the SAPS, to support the prevention of crime and to eradicate non-compliance by both individual security officers and security companies.

The SAPS is mandated from the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act 108 of 1996), 1996, Section 205 (3), as the only national Police Service to: -

Prevent, combat and investigate crime;

Maintain public order;

Protect and secure the inhabitants of the of the Republic and their property; and

Uphold and enforce the law

Private security companies may only respond to criminal and violent incidents in policing areas if a panic alarm is activated by any of their subscribed clients, where after the SAPS must be contacted immediately to take control of the crime scene for apprehending the suspects and investigation purposes.

The mandate of private security companies and officials are prescribed in the Private Security Regulations Act, 2001 (Act 56 of 2001). Private security officials do not have any arresting or other policing powers, such as responding and investigation of crime, except for powers allocated to private citizens to conduct arrest, searches and seizure of goods in terms of Section 42 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act 51 of 1977).

Would you estimate a large number of violent incidents are racially motivated, or criminally motivated, or both?

Analysis and research have indicated that the modus operandi of criminals are primarily crime related and that minimal instances can be linked to other malicious motives, and that rural areas are not specifically targeted.

Docket analyses conducted by CIAC in 2007 further indicated that approximately 75% of all incidents on farms are social of nature, such as liquor abuse, domestic violence. In comparison to the national picture in respect of murders, only 0,6% of murders occur on farms, including farmers and farm workers or dwellers.

The SAHRC Report recommended that SAPS hold a summit under the auspices of the Farming Community Forum to take measures to address the expectations and perceptions of SAPS in rural areas. Was a summit held, and if so, please elaborate on the content and outcome of the summit.

A summit was not hosted. The Farming Community Forum which was required to be established under the auspices of the Office of the President, to bring together government, organised culture and farm workers, was not established.

Several structures in the South African Police Service facilitate interaction with community members through a problem solving approach to address their expectations and perceptions by identifying causes and contributing factors and developing and implementation of joint programmes and projects at police station level, such as the Community Police Forum, Sector Forums and Rural Safety Priority Committees.

SAPS is also in the process of rolling out a national Community Outreach Programme. This programme has been implemented in 7 provinces to date.

The above-mentioned report also recommended that the SAPS engage with civil society to determine the root causes of violence within farming communities. Has the SAPS, and does it continue, to engage with civil society in this regard and in its experience, what are the main causes of violence in farming communities.

Mechanisms for engagement through rural safety priority committees, CPF and sector forums are in place. Crime analysis is conducted at station, cluster, provincial and national level and discussed at these fora.

Rural areas are more vulnerable due to specific dynamics like vast areas, sparse population, older people, longer distances to services including police stations and neighbours. Farms in particular are also vulnerable due to the perception that farmers are rich and keep firearms and cash on the premises (for example to pay wages).

What awareness programmes have been led to ensure that victims of crime are adequately informed of court processes and adequately informed of progress of their cases? Have these initiatives been successful, and is there room for improvement?

SAPS and other Departments in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster conduct public awareness campaigns and provide public information on court process.

SAPS directives further requires that victims are informed of their rights and the criminal justice procedures that apply in the case they are reporting.

Victims and complainants must further be kept informed of progress with their cases throughout the court process.

Procedures in terms of parole further require that victims and SAPS must be informed if offenders are eligible for parole and allowed to make representations at parole hearings.

Is any action taken against individuals from private security companies who carry out arrests in a manner which amounts to assault, and similar offences?

Any contraventions of the law or common law reported to SAPS a must be investigated with a view of prosecution and conviction of the offenders.

This applies to any alleged offender including private security employees.

Has the Rural Protection Plan been amended in line with the Commission's recommendations in 2008?

Yes, a comprehensive Rural Safety Strategy was developed involving all role players and stakeholders (Government, civil society and business) in an integrated manner.

The Strategy will be reviewed during the 2014/2015 financial year through intensive stakeholder engagement to enhance the Strategy to address community needs and expectations.

Stakeholder engagement will take place in all provinces, followed by a national indaba before the Rural Policing Strategy will be finalised

What strategies could be implemented to improve the effectiveness of rural safety plans and overall sector policing strategies?

Strategies which support and promote community interaction and participation, as well as improved co-operation and accountability by all role players and stakeholders. Strategies which are based on local level knowledge and which would improve service delivery. In this regard SAPS is busy with the following initiatives:

Implementation of a Frontline Service Delivery programme

Development and implementation of a national Crime Detection Strategy

Development and Implementation of a Community Outreach Strategy

Review of the rural safety strategy and development of rural policing strategy  

Thank you

Source: SAPS. Converted from Powerpoint presentation. 

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