Soldiers on borders welcomed
Pretoria - The deployment of soldiers on South Africa's borders will help improve security on farms, Agri SA president Johannes Müller said on Monday.
"It will ensure a safe production environment for the farming community," Müller said after a meeting with Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu in Pretoria.
The meeting was the first in a series intended to improve relationships between the two parties.
Defence secretary Mpumi Mpofu said a framework agreement was to be concluded after which the SA National Defence Force would start visiting farming communities to find out about their main concerns and assess progress.
A total of 650 soldiers were recently deployed to protect the Mozambican and Zimbabwean borders.
Farmers will also be involved
Agri SA said this was a relatively small group but the rural and farming communities would also be involved in protecting the border.
Defence chief General Godfrey Ngwenya said more deployments were expected next year, adding that the process would work in phases.
This was due to a shortage of funds and in line with government budgeting processes.
Farmers had raised concerns about crime on their farms as a result of unprotected borders.
Livestock, vehicles and farming equipment were stolen, said Müller.
Illegal immigration added to the problem.
The agricultural movement said it did not want to dwell on these problems because of the newly formed relationship with the government.
"We are responsible as farmers to see what we can do to assist government moving forward," said chairperson of Agri SA's rural safety committee Andre Botha.
Last month, the minister and members of Parliament's portfolio committee on defence and military veterans undertook a three day visit to the borders of South Africa and Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique and Swaziland.
The aim of the visit was to inspect the facilities, interact with soldiers, and understand the problems faced by the army upon their return to the borders.
The return of soldiers was part of the new Cabinet approved South African National Border Management Agency.
Mpofu described the talks with Agri SA as "useful and fruitful".