Partnerships and collaboration are key to enhancing rural safety
On Friday, 2 June 2023, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, and the Western Cape Minister of Police Oversight and Community Safety, Reagen Allen, chaired the Western Cape Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) quarterly meeting on Rural Safety at Elsenburg, Stellenbosch.
A key theme of the meeting was the importance of partnership and collaboration to ensure the safety of the citizens of the Western Cape and the partnership and collaborative nature in which the South African Police Services (SAPS), the Western Cape Government (WCG) and community structures are working towards advancing rural safety.
Minister Meyer said: "The WCG has worked hard to implement the Provincial Rural Safety Plan, which requires the government to form partnerships with the SAPS, neighbourhood and farm watches, the private sector and any other structure that can contribute towards making our rural communities safer."
Minister Reagen Allen said: “We aim to ensure that every corner of the Western Cape becomes a safer space. This collaboration between the two departments demonstrates the Western Cape Safety Plan (WCSP) coming to life. Our residents should be able to live free from fear and in an improved, safer and dignified manner. Our farm workers and owners should be able to go about their business of feeding the nation and boosting our economy without having to be concerned that they will be targeted by criminals.”
Meyer added: “Stock theft is one of the main obstacles to producers of red meat, especially in terms of their business operations, productivity and profitability. For this reason, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDOA) has partnered with the Red Meat Producer’s Organisation (RPO). This will enable the RPO to purchase infrared night vision equipment to be used to combat stock theft. Doing so will contribute to safer rural communities and continued employment opportunities in the red meat industry.”
Commenting on the recent crime statistics in relation to stock theft, Minister Allen remarked: “The 4th quarter crime statistics, January - March 2023 of the 2022/23 financial year, shows that the theft of livestock has an overall decrease of 0,7% across the province. This is largely due to huge reductions in the West Coast district of 65,6% and 21,1% in the Overberg district. The City of Cape Town also had a reduction of 8,2%. We are however deeply concerned about the increases of 52% in the Cape Winelands, 20% in the Garden Route and 17,2% in the Central Karoo.”
The Ministers welcomed the news that the aim is to establish a further 200 neighbourhood/farm watches this year and the Court Watching Briefs will be extended to all courts in the Western Cape.
Minister Meyer highlighted that the WCDoA recently added the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), the RPO and Philani Training & Development Solution to their list of partners.
Minister Meyer commented: “Rural communities face water safety concerns as most agri-workers live on farms and have limited access to public swimming pools with lifeguards. Our partnership with the NSRI brings water safety for farming and rural communities within the province closer to our agri-workers.”
“The partnership with Philani Training and Development Solutions and several producers will bring health care skills that result in the employment of trained community health workers on farms in the Koue Bokkeveld. The programme will improve access to health care, including services to prevent illness, manage disease, and address the unique challenges faced by agri-workers” added Minister Meyer.
"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 Allen, am taking a firm lead in ensuring that rural communities are safe”, remarked Minister Meyer. He further added, “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 WCG and all its agencies and partners are doing their utmost to protect farmers, producers, agri-workers, and our rural communities.”
” We will not cease in our efforts to ensure greater safety for all," concluded the ministers.