Rural safety plan launched
Heidelberg - National Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa launched a much touted rural safety plan on Thursday saying he would like to see the success of the 2010 World Cup security plans reach the rural communities.
“We want to see a 2010 policing model deployed in the rural community,” he said at a farm on the outskirts of Heidelberg.
Mthethwa said police were taking crime in rural areas seriously and were doing their best to “eliminate rotten apples” from the ranks of the police.
He urged farmers and police to have a working relationship, which would help to eliminate crime in the rural community.
Police would aim to improve their forensic teams and forensic response times in rural areas as this would help to improve conviction rates.
"Arresting is not enough. We need to convict," he said.
Asked if the police would need extra resources for the rural safety plan to work, he said the resources were available.
“We have the police officers. We have the resources. It is a question of deploying the resources effectively.”
South Africa’s ratio of police officers to the population was similar to that of England and France, he said.
He urged farmers not to employ foreign workers as this would add to tensions between farmers and local farm workers.
Food and Allied Workers' Union (Fawu) national general co-ordinator Phillip Mokwena urged the minister to look into cases of farm workers assaulted by their employers.
He said very often those case dockets disappeared from the police stations where the assaulted workers had lodged their complaints.
“You have to ask what’s happening. Where’s the justice?” he asked.
Fawu organisers were being prevented from speaking to farm workers and often farm workers were prevented from joining unions.
“Let us all taste the freedom. Let us all taste the rights of this country.”
He said that he was not laying the blame solely at the door of white commercial farmers.
“It’s not only the white farm owners. It’s black farm owners as well. Some times it’s then worse.”
Andre Botha, the chairperson of Agri SA's national rural safety committee, welcomed Mthethwa's attempts to reduce crime in the rural areas.
He said that Agri SA was happy with the rural safety plan that the minister announced in March.
That plan aims to improve service delivery at a station level, increase police visibility in rural areas, improve the relationship between farmers, rural communities and all rural stakeholders, improve safety awareness in rural areas, and improve intelligence gathering in rural areas.
Mthethwa would be visiting each province to launch the rural safety plan.