Implement rural safety strategy immediately – DA KZN

Christopher Pappas says farmers, farm workers and rural communities remain easy targets for crime

KZN DA calls for immediate implementation of rural safety strategy

6 October 2019

The Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal has noted with concern the rise in crime, especially in rural areas. Farmers, farm workers and rural communities remain easy targets for crime: with high incidents of particularly brutal and violent crime. The DA in KwaZulu-Natal is therefore calling for the Agriculture and Rural Development committee to meet to assess the implementation of the Rural Safety Strategy. See attached letter here

In 2010 a Rural Safety Strategy was approved for implementation. The strategy contains key deliverables and recommendations for government to implement in order to protect rural communities. The rising crime statistics point to government’s failure. The DA believes that part of the failure to protect rural communities comes from the failure to implement this rural safety strategy.

Following a disgraceful special sitting to debate Gender Based Violence recently the DA is not convinced that the ANC will address the urgent needs of rural communities. The DA has therefore written to MEC for Agriculture, Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi, requesting a special sitting of the committee to discuss rural safety and to get an update on the implementation of the Rural Safety Strategy. One of the core functions of the department is rural development and coordination. The DA has therefore requested that MEC Sithole-Moloi invite the relevant government stakeholders to respond to questions: especially SAPS and other security cluster stakeholders responsible for implementing the rural safety strategy.

The DA run Western Cape Provincial government has recently announced a R1 billion Safety Plan to make up for the failures of the the ANC run national government. This plan includes cross cutting departmental responsibilities including Agriculture and Rural Development. The DA in KwaZulu-Natal is not convinced that the ANC led Provincial government has the political will to ensure that rural communities are safe.

Last week, my colleague, DA Shadow Minister of Police Andrew Whitfield, yesterday launched a comprehensive rural safety plan that can be put into practice to address rural safety challenges. The plan takes a community focused, ‘boots-on-the-ground’ approach to rural safety which includes the extensive use of technology in new ways and proposals for greater police visibility to keep rural residents safe.

The DA in KwaZulu-Natal has put practical and cost effective solutions on the table but the ANC led Provincial Government has chosen to adopt a hostile approach to the DA's solution orientated approach. These solutions include, amongst others:

- directly subsidising farm patrols and rural crime prevention initiatives;

- establishing rural safety units (similar to the disbanded commandos);

- providing SAPS in rural areas with sufficient capacity to prevent and investigate crime;

- establish a rural safety directorate within SAPS in KwaZulu-Natal;

- subsidising a citizen band radio network.

The DA is committed to holding government accountable and providing implementable solutions that put the needs of farmers, farm workers and rural communities ahead of party political agendas. Can the ANC do the same?

Issued by Christopher Pappas, KZN Spokesperson for Agriculture and rural Development, 6 October 2019