SAPS Rural Safety Plan: SAPS, AgriSA, COSATU/POPCRU & AFASA input; with Minister

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14 November 2018
Chairperson: Mr F Beukman (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met with the Police of Police, National Commissioner of Police, senior management of the SA Police Service (SAPS) and other relevant stakeholders to be briefed on SAPS’ Rural Safety Strategy. SAPS presented its Rural Safety Strategy to the Committee looking at the background to it, status of the implementation of the Strategy, criteria for the implementation of the Strategy, police station classification and total stations per province which did not implement the Strategy for the first semester for 2018/19. The presentation also addressed reasons for not implementing the Strategy, interventions conducted, progress on the review of the Strategy and strategic pillars of the draft reviewed Strategy. 

Agri SA made its submission to the Committee on rural safety – the submission covered the effect of crime in agriculture and the revised National Rural Safety Strategy.

COSATU (and the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union) submitted its insights on the Rural Safety Strategy. The presentation covered the lack of priority crime specific strategies, insufficient resources, inadequately resourced stations and insufficient vehicles. Also addressed was inadequate training, vulnerable groups, expansion of gangs to rural areas, growth in trafficking, farming areas, alcohol abuse and socio-economic crises.

AFASA also provided input to the Committee specifically on matters relating to stock theft, pounds and case management of stock theft cases.

The Committee emphasised recommendations of the National Development Plan (NDP) must be central to the National Rural Safety Strategy, its review and input from different stakeholders. Members questioned what the new Strategy would do to address lacunas in the previous Strategy, the effect on implementation while the Strategy was being reviewed and what the successful implementation of the Strategy at stations actually looked like – there was concern that stations were merely treating the Strategy as a tick box exercise.

Members emphasised the importance of community policing in terms of rural safety – to this point Members questioned the role played by Community Policing and Community Safety Forums as key stakeholders. The view was expressed that the SAPS’ presentation did not speak to details such as resources, technology and training which is critical to effective implementation of the Strategy.

The Committee was concerned by the drastic decline in the number of reservists which played an important role as force multipliers in rural safety – it questioned what SAPS was doing to address this and to ensure the reservists were trained to effective carry out their role.

There was discussion on the role of syndicates, organised crime, guns and drugs played in crime in rural areas and farms and the critical role of Crime Intelligence in tackling wider syndicate activity to make an impact on reducing its manifestation in rural areas.  The Committee also debated the challenge of stock theft – it questioned the training of the specialised stock theft units, case management, other specialised units to support SAPS in rural areas (K9 and equestrian), the role of informers and the role of other relevant departments. Concern was raised around the matter of privately owned pounds and their role in nefarious activities – this however was within the competence of the Department of Agriculture.

Members discussed definitions and numbers/statistics surrounding farm murders and rural attacks and the need for a comprehensive investigative report on farm attacks and killings, as was done in 2003. Members also questioned relationships between farmers and farm workers, the priority committee, rural safety coordinators and what measures farmers and farm owners put in place to provide for their own security given the limitations on the resources of SAPS.

The Committee raised contextual factors contributing to rural crime such as the role of alcohol – it was emphasised that a whole of government approach was needed to address such factors holistically as it was not the sole responsibility of the police.

In conclusion, the Committee noted the meeting was important to get a report on the safety strategy of SAPS. The review was welcomed. The continued involvement of the various role players in this sector is very important. It is vital that the NDP in its full character be implemented – the undertaking that this framework would be included in the Rural Safety Strategy was welcomed. The Committee looked forward to specialised units and resources allocated to the Strategy.

Meeting report

Committee Business

The Chairperson welcomed the Minister. The meeting today would look at rural safety and implementation of the relevant plans. The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries were also invited to attend the meeting today. Organisations were invited to participate in proceedings today.

There were many other requests by others to join but the aim was to keep the meeting specific. There would be another opportunity next year and the invite would then be extended to other role players.

Next week Tuesday at 11h00, the Committee would meet to adopt its Legacy Report and to receive feedback on the Firearms Control Amendment Bill, sponsored by Dr P Groenewald (FF+). The Committee would have a chance to further deliberate and discuss the Bill’s desirability. There were also other Reports to adopt.

On Wednesday, the Committee would meet on gang violence and the anti-gang strategy of the SA Police Service (SAPS) which was unveiled two weeks by the President and Minister. Four communities were invited to the meeting from Gauteng, the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and the Free State to give testimony and input to the Committee.

Ms D Kohler Barnard (DA) asked why some Committees were now meeting at 11h00 on Tuesdays. 

The Chairperson explained this was a decision taken by the Chief Whips Forum for Tuesday meetings to begin at 11h00 for the remainder of the term.

Minister of Police, Mr Bheki Cele, noted that next week Wednesday he, the National Commissioner and other senior members of SAPS management would be at an Interpol conference which could not be rearranged.

The Chairperson took note of this and said the Committee secretariat would explore how the programme could be amended because it would be important to have the Accounting Officer present.

Rural Safety Strategy

The Chairperson referred to recommendations made in the National Development Plan (NDP) that the “National Rural Safety Strategy...should be implemented in totality. Stakeholders who were party to the drafting of the plan should assist in monitoring the implementation of the strategy to ensure the effectiveness there of and new stakeholders such farm workers committees and 12 Farm Watch should be brought on board. Communication tools and early warning systems should be prioritised to address the impediment of distance and infrastructure. Technology and social media should be explored for this purpose. Examples of successful implementation of technology and mobilisation of rural communities for crime prevention should be explored further. Safety and crime prevention training and capacity building workshops should be provided to farmers and farm workers jointly. Safety plans for each farm should be developed taking on board the safety needs of everyone especially the most vulnerable and most exposed. Farm watch structures should be beefed up and supported by the local police station. Farm and rural safety structures should be supported by the business community especially those operating in the agricultural field”. He said the recommendations of the NDP should be central when discussing the current Strategy, its review and input from different stakeholders. Some presentations do not speak to the NDP. Certain elements of the recommendation must be engaged such as technology, not having certain structures in place and what would be done to deal with this effectively. This is the context to keep in mind.

Gen. Khehla Sitole, National Commissioner of Police, prefaced the presentation by noting review of the National Rural Safety Strategy is unfolding in the turnaround vision. In the turnaround vision, the Vision 2030 and NDP are forefront. The reengagement process of the Rural Safety Strategy role players has begun. Rural policing infrastructure was under consideration which would include rural safety technology requirements.  

Brig. Craig Mitchell, SAPS Strategic Management, took Members through the presentation – the

Rural Safety Strategy was implemented in 2011 and aimed to address rural safety as part and parcel of an integrated and holistic day-to-day crime prevention approach, based on the principles of sector policing, which addresses the needs of the entire rural community, including the farming community. The pillars of the 2011 Strategy are as follows:

  • Enhance service delivery
  • Integrated approach
  • Community safety awareness
  • Rural development

A JOINTS Priority Committee has been established on all levels to ensure the Strategy is coordinated inter-departmentally through the Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (JOINTS) on national, provincial, cluster and police station level. The Priority Committee consists of the following stakeholders: 

  • SAPS
  • Visible Policing
  • Detective Services (Detectives and Stock Theft Investigation)
  • Crime Intelligence
  • Operational Response Services
  • Legal and Policy Services
  • Crime Registrar
  • Corporate Communication
  • Strategic Management
  • South African National Defence Force
  • Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
  • Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
  • Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
  • Department of Justice and Correctional Services
  • National Prosecuting Authority
  • Organised agriculture and farmers associations
  • Farm Workers Unions
  • Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)

The priority committees meet as follows:

  • National Priority Committee: Quarterly
  • Provincial Priority Committee: Monthly
  • Cluster Priority Committee: Monthly
  • Station Priority Committee: Monthly

The Rural Safety Strategy is in the process of being reviewed and the review process will be finalised by end November 2018. The review is based on the following challenges identified with implementation of the existing Rural Safety Strategy: vastness of rural areas and reluctance of farmers and farm workers to attend meetings due to seasonal commitments and unreliable reporting. The reviewed Strategy will be piloted during the fourth quarter of 2018/2019. The reviewed Strategy will be implemented in the new financial year 2019/2020.

Brig. Mitchell then turned to the criteria for implementation of the Rural Safety Strategy, police station classification in 2018/19, strategic objectives of the Annual Performance Plan of SAPS and total stations per province which did not implement the rural safety strategy in the first semester of 2018/19

Reasons for police stations not implementing the Strategy included that certain police stations did not implement the five prescribed criteria in the Strategy and certain police stations need to be reclassified from rural or rural/urban to urban.

The presentation then looked at stations where there was no or partial implementation of the Rural Safety Strategy. In terms of interventions conducted, the following Divisional Directives were issued to address implementation of the Strategy:

-Reporting Instructions Rural Safety: Implementation of the Rural Safety Strategy criteria, incident reports and quarterly feedback, reference number 3/5/2/290 dated 9 April 2018 and 30 July 2018

-Functioning of the Rural Safety Priority Committees: Reference number 3/5/2/290 dated 19 June 2018 -Correspondence regarding the Status implementation of the Rural Safety Strategy: first quarter of 2018/2019 dated 30 July 2018 and the second quarter 2018/2019 dated 11 October 2018

-Correspondence regarding non compliance: rural and rural/urban mixed police stations not implementing the set criteria of the four pillars of the Rural Safety Strategy: second quarter 2018/2019.

-Division: Visible Policing conducted work sessions in Limpopo and Mpumalanga

-Division: Visible Policing conducted a Rural Safety Coordinators Forum on 12 and 13 June 2018

-Division: Visible Policing conducted a Quarterly Review Session from 6 to 8 August 2018

-Division: Visible Policing conducted National Priority Committee Meetings

The presentation then looked at a progress review of the Rural Safety Strategy and strategic pillars of the draft reviewed Rural Safety Strategy.

Gen. Sitole added SAPS intended working together with all stakeholders to launch the reviewed Strategy during the Safety and Security Month. SAPS were looking at technological requirements for rural safety e.g. the use of drones given the vastness of the terrain. Mobile police stations and sector policing contact points would also be looked at along with force multipliers – both the Community in Blue concept and its linking to neighbourhood watches and enhancement of the reservist policy. There was also a need to look at agreements with neighbouring states especially on the matter of stock theft in terms of rural safety. SAPS have taken note of the rural economy and in this regard were looking at a safe and secure foundation for this economy. Perhaps by means of oversight, the Rural Safety Strategy was deescalated to NATJOINTS and not the JCPS Cluster. All strategies implemented by SAPS are at the level of the JCPS Cluster – NATJOINTS is the operational wing of the Cluster in terms of intervention. The Rural Safety Strategy would be escalated to the JCPS Cluster. The Strategy would also be linked to the performance management system of the JCPS Cluster as other role player departments are to secure maximum attendance by all.  Mobilisation was started as part of the normalisation phase to ensure the Strategy is beefed up and is operational.

Rural Safety – Agri SA

Agri SA, a federation of agricultural organisations, was established in 1904 as the South African Agricultural Union and consists of nine provincial, 26 commodity organisations and 41 corporate members. Essentially Agri SA, through its affiliated membership, represents a diverse grouping of individual farmers regardless of gender, colour or creed and members in the agricultural value chain within the structures of Agri SA. 

Agri SA represents at least 28 000 farmers and their farmworkers which is approximately 750 000. 

The organisation has always had a constructive relationship with SAPS especially in relation to matters of safety and security. A good example of this relationship is Agri SA’s involvement with implementation of the Rural Safety Plan since 1997 and, more recently, the National Rural Safety Strategy since July 2011. Therefore, it is not only a matter of cooperation and a good relationship, but more about mutual trust between the two organisations. Agri SA also played a role in finalising the revised reservist policy. In addition to operational cooperation, Agri SA serves on the JOINTS Priority Committee for Rural Safety and members of SAPS are represented in Agri SA’s Committee for Rural Safety. Agri SA welcomed the National Commissioner and his management team taking part in its rural safety meeting on Monday where he shared his turnaround vision and the way forward. The Human Rights Commission also emphasised the good relationship which exists between Agri SA and SAPS.

Looking at the effect of crime in agriculture, farmers worldwide are subjected to crime. In SA the difference is that the farming community must also contend with farm attacks – something farmers in the rest of the world do not experience. Agri SA is concerned about ongoing brutality during farm attacks and farm murders – this is unacceptable. 

In a recent study conducted by the Bureau of Market Research on behalf of Agri SA, it was found 70% of farmers participating in the study, experienced one or other form of crime during 2017. The study reveals the magnitude, impact and trends of agricultural crime in an analysis of types of crime, the average and total number of agricultural commercial units affected and severity in provinces.

Looking at the percentage of victims affected by crime categories in 2017, theft of livestock tops the list with 39.74%, followed by theft of farm infrastructure (37.21%), theft of farm tools and equipment (34.74%), theft of game and illegal hunting (28.51%) and robbery contributing 25.05%. The study further reveals that 32% of farmers experienced an increase in crime over the past three years, total direct cost of crime was R5.45 billion, total replacement cost due to agricultural crime was R2.28 billion and total crime related cost for agriculture was R7.7 billion. The report reveals the reality of SA’s commercial farmers being repeated victims of various crimes. Crimes affecting commercial farming not only poses a threat to stability in the rural farming areas and the country as a whole, but also puts food security at risk.

Matters relating to rural safety are critical within the farming community and therefore dialogue and strategic engagements are imperative in addressing challenges faced by farmers, farm workers and members of the rural community. 

The continued attacks on farmers and farm workers, high levels of stock theft and the levels of farm infrastructure destruction, requires an effective strategy to deal with these issues, Agri SA believes that the Rural Safety Strategy can be such a strategy.

Looking at the revised National Rural Safety Strategy, Agri SA welcomed the opportunity to make presentations to the police on the revised Strategy and would like to emphasised the following aspects of the Strategy for effective implementation thereof:

-The successful implementation of the revised Strategy and Implementation Plan will rely largely on the dedicated attention by all Commanders and the NATJOINTS to see to it that it is fully implemented with the support of our farming community

-A well-functioning Priority Committee system is needed to support and guide implementation of the Strategy with participation by relevant state departments

-A rapid police reaction capacity should be introduced at Priority Rural Clusters to respond to incidents in the rural community as well as a plan to execute Joint Crime Prevention Operations, for example white- blue light patrols

-The establishment of dedicated task teams that should focus on combating of rural crime and to establish possible involvement of organised crime, should be established. These task teams should be supported by a well-functioning Intelligence System to proactively prevent acts of violence in rural areas.  -To make a significant impact on the crime situation, a well-functioning reservist system, which is the backbone of the Rural Safety Strategy, should be fully implemented and capacitated with the necessary resources to assist the police. Reservists should be supported with necessary training and the recruitment process must be enhanced

-Rural Safety co-ordinators play an important role in assisting in implementation of the Strategy and should not be burdened with other tasks and functions

-Shortages of vehicles and other resources such as cellphones and radios used in rural safety, may inhabit successful implementation of the Strategy by the police and rural safety co-ordinators. This aspect should be dealt with as a priority in achieving successful implementation of the Strategy

-It is recommended that a yearly training session be done by provinces at cluster-level to provide training on implementation of the Strategy

-While violent crimes and murders on members of the farming community are of great concern to Agri SA, the increase in property and infrastructure related crimes and stock theft has become a burning matter for agriculture. The Rural Safety Strategy is an excellent overarching strategy to deal with rural crimes but it is further recommended a substrategy be developed to deal especially with violent and property related crimes in farming areas

-There is a definite need for a standardised “scorecard” or evaluation tool to evaluate implementation of the Strategy in order to ensure feedback whether by SAPS or organised agriculture is done in the same manner and according to the same criteria.  This “scorecard” must be based on implementation tools as mentioned in the National Rural Safety Strategy

-It is important to monitor and evaluate effectiveness of the Strategy on a continuous basis.  This can be done by means of an annual work session between SAPS and relevant role players at all levels to ensure the Strategy stays relevant, is effectively executed and updated when required - for example in the Free State, pro-active implementation of the existing Strategy resulted in pro-active prevention of 55 farm attacks during the past three years. 

Agri SA believes dedicated attention by NATJOINTS and top police management as well as other Commanders, on a continuous basis, will ensure the status of the Priority Committee for Rural Safety as well as implementation of the revised National Rural Safety Strategy and Implementation Plan (NRSS), at provincial, cluster and local level is dealt with as a priority and with concomitant dedication by commanding officers. Agri SA is also convinced that only focused attention to implementation of all NATJOINTS instructions pertaining to the strategy, as well as effective functioning of Priority Committees, can achieve the objectives of the NRSS. 

As an organisation, Agri SA supported the revised Rural Safety Strategy and would like to thank the police for the work done in this regard as well as for the opportunity to assist in developing the Strategy. 

COSATU and POPCRU Submission: SAPS Rural Safety Strategy

Mr Matthew Parks, COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator, noted there are high levels of crime across the nation, urban and rural. There is a leadership and management crises in law enforcement agencies. There are socio-economic challenges and legacies of a brutalised society and plummeting moral standards on many fronts. COSATU agrees with objectives of the Rural Safety Strategy but there are key omissions – it looked good on paper, but problems are found in implementation as is the case with many other government policies. COSATU appreciated the service of SAPS’ members, appointment of Minister Cele and the passion that he brought to change things around in SAPS, changes in SAPS management and early successes seen because of these factors in the drop in cash-in-transit heists and the launch of the gang unit by the President recently in Hanover Park.

There is a lack of priority crime specific strategies with regard to gender-based violence, alcohol and substance abuse, the expansion of gangs and drugs, stock theft, migration and human trafficking.

There are also insufficient resources in terms of personnel (too many head office, desk and urban-biased deployments), there is a need for more deployments specifically to rural stations, there is a need for more rural, satellite and mobile stations and adequate border protection.

Mr Parks said police stations are also inadequately resourced rural stations in terms of CCTV cameras, bulletproof windows, fencing, protective gear, weaponry, computers and forensics. An example of this importance of these resources was seen in what happened in Ngcobo.

Vehicles are insufficient – more patrol vans are required (including 4x4s), off-road motorbikes, water cannons and helicopters. The conditions of vehicles are also poor because of lack of maintenance and service. There was a recent article on the huge amount of money spent by Transet in the procurement of new bakkies which were actually not utilised and were not deteriorating – yet SAPS was doing a fundamental job but was under resourced.

There is inadequate training with regard to investigations, intelligence, forensics, priority crimes, crowd control, domestic violence and general understanding of other laws – SAPS members are responsible for enforcing a number of laws with a number of criminal sanctions and sometimes they were not well trained or even aware of these many laws passed by Parliament each year.

The presentation highlighted women and children as a vulnerable group where there is lack of a targeted approach and training, low level of reporting crime and few or inadequate Victim-Friendly Rooms and support. What is required is improved forensic support, distance from SAPS’ members and an increased focus on conservative and isolated communities which called for closer collaboration.

What was seen was a concerning expansion of gangs and syndicates to rural areas, peri-urban towns, coastal fishing villages and trafficking routes. Specific strategies to address this is lacking and stations are under-resourced. The expansion of the drug trade, growth of poaching and rising levels of violence was also seen. Also seen was the exploitation of rural youth. It cannot be expected that small stations in small rural towns would have the sophistication to deal with gangs from the urban areas which were heavily armed and well resourced.

Mr Parks highlighted the growth in human trafficking but where at the same time there was a lack of strategies and resources to deal with growth in human and child trafficking, cross-border illegal migration, drug smuggling, illicit tobacco, cross-border stock theft and cross-border vehicle theft. Focus on these factors were needed not only from the view of across the border but within SA itself.

The presentation then addressed farming areas in terms of the isolated nature of towns and the need to build relations between farmers, farm workers, unions and SAPS – this would include respect for labour rights and working conditions, housing, health, education and transport, tenure security and land reform, alcohol abuse and enforcement of all rights. Domestic workers and farm workers are some of the most vulnerable and exploited workers in SA – they are paid well below the minimum wage and are subject to horrendous working conditions despite all the progress legislation passed by Parliament. This was not only the work of SAPS alone.

Alcohol abuse was concerning – the centrality of alcohol abuse was linked to domestic, violent and sexual crime and traffic accidents. There was specific concern for the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome crisis and delays in tabling the National Liquor and Liquor Advertising Amendment Bills which would address reducing excessive consumption, ban adverts of alcohol, raise the drinking age to 21 and impose seller liabilities – this requires attention by the Department of Trade and Industry. The Western Cape has the highest rate of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in the world.

The greater socio-economic crises was compounded by rising unemployment, youth unemployment and despair and the collapse of rural economies, service delivery and decaying infrastructure, rural departments and local government and rising municipal corruption. The effects were seen in the growth in violent rural protests. If though SAPS might do a sterling job, these factors must be addressed to make a lasting impact on rural development.


The Chairperson noted the previous Strategy was in place since 2011 and now the review process is underway although the current Strategy was not fully implemented. One of the challenges raised was the quality or input of reporting and that some structures did not operate effectively in terms of meetings and interactions. He asked the National Commissioner what would be done in the new Strategy to address lacunas which led to its review. He found the presentation of SAPS to be light on the NDP – the NDP made very firm recommendations which have been on the table for the last seven or eight years. He expected the SAPS presentation to be more detailed especially on matters such as technology, training and every farm having a safety plan – nobody was talking about this. Why was it not being pushed? The NDP presumed police stations should lead the safety process and drive it. He highlighted a rural town 150km outside of Cape Town where the local community is driving the process with a motor registration identification system, a comprehensive and sophisticated communication system and more vehicles than SAPS running 24 hours. The dilemma is that unless SAPS deals with the matter of leadership at station level in the rural areas and the matter of resource allocation, there would be a turnaround situation where civil society actually drives the process instead of SAPS – he saw this happening already. This must be addressed because the responsibility of security and safety lies with SAPS not civil society in terms of the Constitution.

Ms Kohler Barnard noted the drastic 82% drop in reservists since 2010 because of the dreaded moratorium. Reservists worked for nothing and act as force multipliers – what is SAPS doing to try to regain numbers lost from the time of the Fifa World Cup where reservists were helping to run stations but were thrown out afterwards. She heard that reservists from all over the country were not receiving firearm training. One station five years ago had 76 reservists and was able to put out three response vehicles on Fridays and Saturdays – now the station was down to 24 reservists and only eight received training. The hours also dropped from 3 000 to 200 hours a month. It seemed no money was spent on reservists or their training – the few who were left seemed to be leaving because they are not being trained and so could not be used. There were over 63 000 reservists but this was now down to 11 000 – the question is how many of these reservists are active? What is SAPS doing to specifically assist stations where the manpower was most needed?    

Ms Kohler Barnard sat in rural stations where the tick box exercise was done so say the Strategy is implemented but the reality is that this is not the case – the Strategy was implemented on paper but not in practice at station level. Attacks on rural areas involved heavily armed gangs, sometimes with obvious military training, who proceed to torture families, workers and worker’s families, sometimes for days. Has SAPS carefully factored in the NDP recommendations regarding the Rural Safety Strategy and the communication tools, training workshops and visits to each and every farm to discuss structures etc – was this being done? This seemed to be the crux of the matter. Rural safety efforts have failed since the first plan was initiated in 1997 – treatment from SAPS has been described as slow and haphazard. What would SAPS do differently? Stock theft is a huge challenge – the stock theft units are known as the Cinderella units with zero resourcing to be able to follow a herd towards the border. She heard of an incident where members of the unit let an entire man’s livelihood drive over the border because it was time for them to go home. She wanted to be convinced today that someone was going to help the rural communities.

Ms A Steyn (DA) wanted to know what full implementation of the Strategy at a station looked like because at all stations she has visited there was just a tick box exercise. What is different when a station fully implemented the Strategy? This is important for when Members conducted oversight. She asked if there was specific focus on weapons – she noticed that when an attack on a farm was carried out, perpetrators were looking for weapons and money. Did SAPS follow up on what happens with these weapons? Are they retrieved?  Finding out the reason for these attacks could help with its prevention – intelligence in this regard is required. She also raised the increased drug abuse in rural towns – this was the biggest complaint. This drug abuse never existed in these areas before.  She asked if SAPS could have task teams move in these areas to link weapons and drugs – were there perhaps syndicates operating? She remembered six or seven attacks on farms in Limpopo were linked to one grouping.

Ms Steyn then asked if the Rural Safety Strategy also spoke to farm invasions – this was happening in more and more rural areas and were not just linked to farms. Communities were told by the police that it could not do anything either because it does not have the manpower or does not know what to do. She was also concerned by the low number of reservists – the area she came from had a functioning group of reservists but they have not volunteered for the past two years. Why were they not being used? 

Ms Z Mbhele (DA) was aware of material shortcomings which hinder implementation such as shortage of staff and equipment at stations such as vehicles, cellphones and radios – he wanted to know how SAPS management would address this. Looking at organised crime, he was not yet convinced that Crime Intelligence was up to the task. He attended an information session this year conducted by someone who had been following and researching farm attacks – it was said, at least insofar as the organised crime aspect of it is concerned, it comes down to guns, cash and jewellery as goods moving between syndicate networks. If Crime Intelligence was on its game on tackling the wider syndicate activity, it would impact on reducing its manifestation in rural areas. Given the outlined unique challenges when it comes to rural policing and its specialised environment, has any thought been given to using dedicated rural safety units to drive the Strategy, at least in identified prioritised precincts? The merits of specialised units in certain environments are well known but is any thought being given to this approach? Specialised dedicated intelligence equipping technology is needed to really crack down on the backbone of the matter.                                                                                                         

Dr P Groenewald (FF+) asked that the Minister inform the President of the correct facts on farm murders – Ms Steyn asked the President a question and the response was that the President was only aware of statistics on farm murders since 2010/2011. It is quite clear the President does not know what the real situation is regarding farm murders going right back to 1994. The Minister should brief the President so that he can understand farm murders and attacks.

He was disappointed because it was confirmed there was a meeting with Agri SA on a revised and turnaround strategy on rural safety – he thought the presentation this morning would be on the revised or turnaround strategy. The meeting between SAPS and Agri SA showed there was already a revised or turnaround strategy on rural safety – when would the Committee receive this revised or turnaround strategy?  He asked if the Commissioner was willing to have a meeting with Tau South Africa as it is one of the role players and part of the priority committee – it should also have a meeting as Agri SA did.

Dr Groenewald noted the late former National Commissioner of Police, Jackie Selebi, in 2003, compiled a comprehensive report by the police, with different stakeholders, on farm attacks and killings – he asked if there was willingness to have a follow up report with a new investigation on farm attacks and murder akin to the report of 2003. He asked Agri SA if its figures of murders and attacks on farms were the same as SAPS. If there was a difference, why was there a difference and what is the difference?

Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) asked Agri SA to what extent it realised in some instances the relationship between the farmer and farm worker is problematic for the safety of the farmer. She asked SAPS about the role played by the six departments sitting on the JOINTS priority committee. There is a low recovery of livestock and prosecution – are informers utilised to help link suspects to the crime? Why are Community Policing Forums (CPFs) and Community Safety Forums (CSFs) not represented on the JOINT priority committee?

Ms P Mmola (ANC) asked when the JOINT priority committee was established and when last a meeting took place on the national, provincial and cluster station level. What was meant by unreliable reporting as referred to in the presentation? Are specialised stock theft units adequately capacitated and resourced? What are the major challenges faced by these units? Are other specialised units, such as K9 or equestrian, available to assist the stock theft units? Do the stock theft units have access to appropriate vehicles such as 4x4s, quad bikes and ATVs? Are stock theft units rationally distributed country-wide in terms of location? What innovative measures and technological advances have been considered during the review of the Rural Safety Strategy and which would be incorporated into the revised strategy? 

Mr J Maake (ANC) wanted to understand what a rural safety coordinator is – how is this person selected?  What is his/her functions? Is this person a member of SAPS or from a stakeholder? New computer micro chipping technology is used for keeping track of stock – why is this not used? Is it too expensive? What sort of cost is involved?

Mr S Emam (NFP) spoke to contributing factors to crime particularly in rural areas such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome which has been going on from generation to generation yet very little was done to address this – government alone does not have the capacity or resources to deal with this. He asked what Agri SA could do to meet government halfway in addressing this. It was found much of the crime was committed on a Wednesday, Friday and Saturday where alcohol and firearms seemed to play a major role. Originally, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome originated on the farms. SA cannot compare itself to other countries as its socio-economic conditions are completely different and this should be considered. However, what could be done to create a more cohesive society between farmers and farm workers? The perception was that farm owners marginalise the community, treat them badly, do not provide proper accommodation, evict workers, provide no benefits etc – is SAPS doing something to ensure farmers and farm workers are brought together to create a more cohesive society? This could bring better understanding and collaboration which in turn could reduce the rate of crime. He raised the contributory role of alcohol in the proliferation of crime in rural areas– looking at a small area such as the Tsitsikamma, there are 40 shebeens amongst maybe 500 people. He saw a small child walk into the shebeen and buy alcohol. Unless there was collaboration with all relevant stakeholders to address the matter holistically, the challenge would continue. Very often the blame is pushed on the police. Since the Minister and National Commissioner have come on board, there have been many success as seen in the reduced number of farm murders, cash-in-transit heists etc. 

He asked SAPS about the big discrepancy on the numbers of stock theft between its crime stats and the Victims of Crime Survey. He asked if farmers and farm owners were providing security for themselves. He asked Agri SA what measures it was putting in place to provide their own security given that SAPS has limited resources. It is important to work together to create a long term plan. He told the Minister that if he did a survey on police vehicles, it would be found a minimum of 25% are parked at a member’s home at any given time, all over the country, for up to ten hours at a time. The problem is these vehicles are not being monitored.


The representative said AFASA was very concerned by stock theft in the rural areas because stock is the bank of rural dwellers. He asked what criteria SAPS was using to select members to serve in the stock theft units along with the kind of training received. When going to the court on such matters, one would find many loopholes in police statements. One would also find the Magistrate did not have any background whatsoever on the value of the animal. Stock theft has been increasing on a yearly basis. The police have made some strides in dealing with the syndicates but it appeared these people had a formidable plan and it has spread to all communities. There were further questions of the police case management of stock theft and the turnaround time – some cases were hanging because they lack information from police statements. It was found the police could not differentiate between the track of a cow and that of a donkey – this raised questions around how the member was selected for the stock theft unit. Perpetrators are aware of these shortcomings on the side of the police and manipulate it.

The other concern was “farm lifting” where, for example, maize was planted but then was stolen before the harvest. There is a lack of understanding of this in the court regarding the harvest per hectare and the Rand Cent value which impacted the lives of farmers and farm employees. Taverns are found around farm areas and he was not sure what the approach of the police was in dealing with this - people visiting the taverns got drunk and break kraals to take animals. This impacted the Rand Cent value and the payment to the SA Revenue Service (SARS), for example. He cautioned against the use of reservists – policing is a science and if someone was ignorant of information management of cases, the police could be shooting itself in the foot. It was found that investigations were leaked by reservists who were just taken on face value without the in depth knowledge of the importance of protecting information.

AFASA said another problem was the slow response of the police who, when called to act on information, would only arrive after a week or not at all, in some instances. This is how stock theft cases are lost.  

Mr Mbongeni Skhakhane, AFASA Deputy Secretary, raised the huge problem of increasing stock theft. He said there was a man called Bruce who had a pound – this man was contributing to confusing emerging farmers in the province of KZN. For example there are many stray cows in the rural areas of KZN because of the lack of fences (Check audio for input made in isiZulu 01:37:30)

AFASA further said the pound matter was a thorn in the side of AFASA and emerging farmers. It was not known who really owned the pound. When the police was presented with information, it would put the animals in the pound and the animals would stay there sometimes up to a year. Some animals would calf in the pound but the calf would never be found. The pound was understood to be for temporary safekeeping of the animal until it could be identified by the owner – it now seemed as if the pound was a business. Who finances these pounds? Clarity needs to be provided by the police.

The Chairperson noted that some of the matters fell under provincial competence.

Response to Questions

Minister Cele found it interesting that the meeting was a joint one between police and agriculture yet all questions were directed to the police. Many of the points raised by AFASA are best answered by the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) or Agriculture – they are lucky no questions were directed to them. Pounds are supposed to be owned and overseen by local government – this is what the law said. Pounds are there to keep the animal safe until the owner is found and not to sell the animal. It looks as if Bruce has made a business out of the pound. He thought Bruce was a thief because pounds are not supposed to be owned by individuals – this matter required further investigation. Fencing is the responsibility of Agriculture to safeguard movement of stock. When the stock found their way to the freeway, they caused a lot of damage – many have died because of this. When Agriculture did put fencing in place, communities would cut it down, steal it and then complain government was doing nothing. It was once said that Agriculture would change the colour of the fencing to easily identify when it was stolen. Agriculture is also responsible for chipping cattle and other forms of identification – if this was happening was it monitored? Departments which are part of the rural safety plan must work closely together when it comes to the economy of the rural areas. He requested the Directors-General and National Commissioner to get top management together to work on these matters – everyone should get involved instead of directing all questions to the police. The police are not responsible for fencing, pounds or chipping. 

The Minister said he had a good warmth towards Agri SA – the organisation has tried to deracialise farming. There is the weakness of racialising farming – there must be work on deracialising this.  Agri SA did not agree with the statement of genocide when Afriforum went to Australia – this was murder and not genocide. This murder was not exclusive to the problem of murder all over SA. To speak about farm murder with a particular colour attached to the matter is a problem because not only white South Africans died in farm situations. It was a problem when no one spoke out about when workers were put into coffins alive – this put conflict into farming communities. Work should be put into deracialising farming communities –this should be drilled into minds to fight the scourge of killings on farms and not only the killing of white people on farms. 62 murders of the 20 000 murders which were committed last year in SA took place on a farm – this is not a genocide. South Africans cannot be allowed to misrepresent SA internationally. There is murder which needs serious response but there is no genocide on the farms.

On stock theft, a stimulus package on safety has been presented to and adopted by Cabinet – the package was presented by the Cluster. If it is well implemented, crime would be reduced drastically and with immediate effect. Stock theft was part of the illicit economy in rural areas. It was said most of the meat eaten in the hostels and shisanyamas came from stock theft – it was also said a hospital was provided with the stolen stock theft meat so this is serious business. He admitted that when established and commercial farmers reported matters, there was a faster response from the police than when someone reported 20 heads of cattle were stolen. The police must respond equally because the 20 heads of cattle might be all that one farmer had.

Minister Cele said the ball might have been dropped when it comes to resources such as ensuring there are helicopters around the borders, 4x4s, horses etc. The Rural Safety Strategy must look into this. It should not be the norm that some communities are better resourced than the police –these resources should be shared so that they were utilised as a team.

It cannot be that reservists are the new entry point to get a job in the police – if someone wanted to join the police they must apply and undergo the necessary processes. At one time there was a protest by reservists to become part of the police – this cannot become a new phenomenon. It should be very clear what a reservist is – they cannot bypass the system. The Commissioner is however working on the intake of reservists.

The Minister said all departments which play a role in rural safety must play their part – this is not the responsibility of the police alone. This included the Department of Social Development (DSD) and Education, especially Basic Education, to look at the situation at farm schools. He heard that at farm schools, for six weeks, kids would work on the farm as form of pay-back. These kinds of factors which disrupt relationships in rural areas must be worked on. Relationships of communities on the farm also require hard work to stabilise the situation. An example of this strained relationship was seen in KZN where all the stock of an emerging black farmer was poisoned and killed by a commercial farmer because it was said the black farmer was overgrazing. These are the kind of matters to deal with to improve relationships on the farms.

Mr Groenewald thought the Minister was misinformed – Afriforum never said there was a white genocide in SA. He was disappointed that the Minister referred to the 62 farm murders as if it was 62 of 20 000. The Minister knows the world average murder rate is 7 per 100 000 of the population – in SA it is 35 per 100 000. When looking at the killing of police officers, the numbers showed 52 were killed per 100 000 of the population. In the farming community, is it between 100 and 150 murders per 100 000. There was a recent case in KZN where a black farmer was brutally killed and the wife was raped. As soon as one spoke to the international world on the cruelty happening on farms, that is when people said it sounded like genocide. Afriforum did not say there was a white genocide – the President referred to white farmers in his response.

Minister Cele heard Afriforum speak in Australia on a radio station where there was talk of genocide – if Mr Groenewald did not hear this he should not say it was not said. The Minister heard this with his own ears. He did not want to take the debate forward – his responsibility is to ensure South Africans are safe at all levels. He asked that voices be raised when white compatriots also did terrible things on the farms.  

Mr Groenewald said that he and the Minster could have the discussion in private but he would not accept misinterpretations. He would condemn other things that are happening as he has already done. The President emphasised everyone should engage each other so he would engage the Minister.  

Gen. Sitole said when the current Strategy was reviewed, discrepancies were identified – this included that the NDP recommendations were not fully implemented in the Strategy. The review intended to capture these recommendations fully. Three of the five main objectives of the National Crime Prevention Strategy included integration of resources of government agencies and civil society – if one of these main objectives of the National Crime Prevention Strategy was operationalised, resources of civil society would not surpass those of government because a Rural Resource Management Strategy would be built into the revised Strategy to talk to full integration of resources at that level. Migration of resources down to police stations from headquarters and provinces was currently part of the turnaround as rural police stations are a priority.  The capacitation or beefing up of these stations would flow from this priority. The location of the current Strategy was not at the right level – it was now being escalated to the Justice Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster so that strategic drive of implementation of the Strategy is in the hands and subject to direction of the Cluster. The Rural Safety Strategy was deescalated to NATJOINTS which is an operational wing – placing it at this level meant strategic support would not be able to be drawn into it. The performance management system is with the JCPS Cluster but with the Strategy scaled down to NATJOINTS, performance was not effectively managed. The root cause analysis and root cause matrix spoke to root causes inhibiting rural safety– these root causes could only be dealt with through an inter-cluster process at the level of the Cluster. For example, the matters raised by AFASA required addressing by the police, Agriculture and COGTA as the matters were inter-departmental.

Gen. Sitole said rural safety is the foundation of the nation’s GDP. The Rural Safety Strategy did not link fully to socio-economic stability – realignment would have to be brought in to speak to the stimulus package. The specialised units are contained in the transformation and scope as part of capacity to be enhanced. Stabilisation occurred in June followed immediately by the normalisation process – review of the Rural Safety Strategy is part of normalisation. The few meetings held marked the journey towards the review – more stakeholders would be engaged and SAPS would reach out to them. Once this was done the finalised review could then be presented to the Committee – it is important that everyone is brought on board. One of the concepts introduced is the traditional policing concept to mobilise all traditional leaders as part and parcel of the rural policing concept. CSFs were included and all agricultural unions were presented with the turnaround strategy to ensure there was buy-in.  

Gen. Sitole said a directive was issued on the enhancement and revival of reservists to link to police resources.

Lt. Gen. Sharon Jephta, SAPS Acting Divisional Commissioner: Visible Policing, added that there currently just under 11 000 active reservists. With the Community Policing Strategy, there would be reservist recruitment drives. The training programme is being revised to look at localised training on cluster level where farmers did not have to leave their farms for three weeks to undergo training because it was extremely difficult for them to do so. A special training model was being looked at for reservists in rural areas. Most active reservists were currently in the rural areas.

Gen. Sitole, responding to enhancing client confidence, said the Community Policing Strategy was launched.  The Strategy was presented to Agri SA on Monday. The Strategy went hand in glove with the Community in Blue concept to enhance neighbourhood watches and farm watches in rural areas. This would also be linked to the Service Charter.

With the stock theft unit resourcing, specialised units are being revived as part of the turnaround vision. Rural safety forms an integral part of this revival.

Lt. Gen. Tebello Mosikili, SAPS Divisional Commissioner: Crime Detection, added there are currently 90 stock theft units: 22 in the Eastern Cape, 16 in KZN, 11 in Free State, 11 in Mpumalanga, 8 in Limpopo, 7 in the Northern Cape and North West, 6 in the Western Cape and 2 in Gauteng. The buying of vehicles for stock theft units is prioritised – these are 4x4s given the terrain where the units are. There are also motorcycles, quad bikes, trailers, trucks, horse trailers and horses.  There are only 16 sedans in the stock theft units for the compliance inspection teams and provincial coordinators for visits, investigations and to submit exhibits.

Lt. Gen. SF Masemola, SAPS Deputy National Commissioner: Policing, explained rural safety coordinators are police members. These members are responsible for coordinating and ensuring rural safety is carried out. Priority committees at station clusters meet monthly. There were also provincial meetings and NATJOINTS. Relevant line function departments raise various matters at these meetings. The priority committee coordinates the various roles.

While the Rural Safety Strategy was currently being renewed, when it comes to what full implementation of the Strategy looks like, a coordinator should be appointed and there should be a signed off rural safety plan for all role players at that level, be it at station, cluster or province, to ensure the priority committee functioned well. There should also be crime prevention operations, awareness and meetings should take place as prescribed. Currently departments send different role players which makes the process a bit challenging because there is not continuous handing over of information. The JCPS would have to look at accountability in this regard.

Lt. Gen. Masemola said some firearms do get recovered which are involved in these crimes. The motive for the attacks is mostly robbery to take money, guns and animal products, e.g. lion heads, bones and parts. Another dynamic was revenge in terms of the employer-employee relationship. Most of the suspects were found to be foreign nationals where, for example, the worker was either not paid and the farmer would then be killed for revenge. It would be difficult to track such suspect as he/she would cross back over the border once the crime was committed. 

The Chairperson noted matters raised by AFASA regarding core competencies of the stock theft members and case management in that many cases fell through – input on this was required.

Gen. Sitole responded that training should talk to competence. There is a shift of modus operandi from the urban to rural parts of the country which required review of the training and development strategy to train these members differently to be able to respond to the modus operandi. Those in the rural environment understood it best. Within the training and development strategy there was training and development research. SAPS would like to engage AFASA to find out what it says was not on display in terms of delivery in order to feed this back to training to ensure these members were more adaptable. With the revival of specialised units, SAPS was also looking at rural-based training to ensure there was rural competence in these units. With case management, AFASA would be engaged on SAPS’ cold case strategy in terms of several of the cases it referred to. The strategy was located in Crime Detection for reanalysis and investigation. Within the Criminal Justice Cluster, there was a directive which spoke to case flow management to strengthen the value chain and ensure current training fostered competency to deal with this aspect- the directive is already out to Crime Detection.

Gen. Sitole confirmed syndicates were operating in crimes on farms – there was a takedown on one of the farms in the Eastern Cape where drugs and herds of cattle were found. Some of the suspects involved owned shisanyamas in the township and were using the farm as the supply. There was also a factory on a farm with three machines manufacturing 16 Mandrax tablets per second – this was in Harding, KZN.  This was also being supplied internationally. His confirmed the shift in modus operandi from urban to rural areas. Modus operandi analysis and research was finalised in the turnaround strategy hence the modus operandi analysis centre. Rural modus operandi analysis would also be dealt with. This also included enhancement of Crime Intelligence capacity to deal with organised crime. However it was because of Crime Intelligence that the takedown or bust on the farm could occur. In corporate renewal of Crime Intelligence, more work was needed to get to Crime Intelligence up to this level but it was a structured process.

Gen. Sitole then spoke to the role of the six departments. As the Rural Safety Strategy was escalated to the JCPS Cluster, both the police and farmers required the road in order to respond (police) and ensure the rural economy grows (farmers) – this is clearly the role of Transport. Some of the roads could not reach certain areas even if one travelled by 4x4. There is also a role for Social Development to play in restoring the moral fibre of society and in other areas such as human trafficking, shelters for kids etc. All these roles are clearly defined. Presently the aim is to escalate these areas of the Strategy to the JCPS Cluster directive where there are processes and departments officially send people to participate and fulfil these roles. There is also evaluation of those roles at this level. 

CPFs and CSFs are part of the local crime prevention framework and local policing framework – these Forums do not function in isolation but as part of an integrated approach to talk to prevention.

Gen. Sitole said a strategic directive was issued which was based on the national norm of the ratio of investigators to informers – this norm is maintained according to the performance management system of the organisation. It was a misconduct to drop below this norm.

Lt. Gen. Mosikili added the operational plan put the number of informers for every investigator and the informer network that each investigator is supposed to have. This also included members of the stock theft unit. Rural investigations also involved other investigating units such as organised crime along with station investigators for crosscutting resources for investigators. There was monitoring capacity for the number of informers an investigator must have at any time. There is a very low recovery rate due to a number of factors. This would be looked into when reviewing performance of stock theft units.

The Chairperson asked for an indication of the current percentage load of informers at rural stations – this was the concern of the Committee. 

Mr Maake followed up on case management of stock theft – cases were difficult in rural areas where in court a farmer would say the colour of his lost cow was brown but the interpreter would say the cow was red. This would cause problems for the case. AFASA also said police officers in stock theft units could not differentiate the spoor of a cow and donkey – this made it very difficult to win a case and instead the person would lose his cattle to the pound. If such problems were not solved, cases would not be won. This would mean the case management matter could not be dealt with.

Ms Molebatsi asked if there was a way of following up on adherence to the number of informers per investigator – there is a difference between having the number on paper and actually adhering to it.

Ms Steyn asked if she heard correctly that one of the criteria to qualify as a rural safety police station is to have a certain number of meetings per month. When she visited stations and asked them if the Strategy was in place, they would say yes but she did not see any difference in the station. Having one of the criteria be a number of meetings held per month would not help – what would help is having boots on the ground. Another useful criterion would be having a station having a certain percentage of reservists. She asked where the horse units were located. Looking at the percentage of farm murders, people always looked at the percentage of commercial farmers but the definition also included farm workers and people living in smallholding areas. She asked that the police really look at these statistics because the brutality of the murders needs to be emphasised. She believed these attacks were driven by people looking for weapons and money – the police need to focus on this, ask why the criminals were looking for this and what was being done with the guns. She believed syndicates were behind these attacks – if the guns were being sold, who were they sold to? More attention should be paid to who was responsible for this.  

AFASA appreciated what the National Commissioner put on the table and said he would look at. What would make a difference would be engagement with Agriculture in terms of a stock card. In prior years, there was a stock card to use as a tool to see how many animals one has acquired, how many were sold, bought etc to reduce stock theft. This was the function of the Department of Agriculture – if the police could engage the Department to bring back the stock card this would assist. The matter of stock theft is worsened by farms claimed by communities – it is found these farms are given to members of the community who did not have any animals. This space sparked the urge to own livestock because the land was there – the stock card would assist in this regard. It would also be useful to engage Chiefs as some of the farms were claimed by the Chiefs and given to communities – this was becoming a problem. There is a need to look at the Branding Act which is also the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture. When one wanted one’s animals to be branded, one would have to apply for the brand mark as the Department maintained this on a database. If there was a good relationship between the police and Department of Agriculture, it would assist in improving case management to ensure there was a shared database in cases where animals were lost but then found – it would enable the owner to be identified quicker. In some communities there are farmers riding tractors from Monday to Friday to buy animals. It was uncertain as to whether this was done following the correct processes to verify ownership of the animals sold on a daily basis. Staying on top of this would assist with case management and counteract the challenge of lack of information regarding ownership and verification. This information would quicken management and finalisation of these cases.

Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) asked what happened in the intervening period while the Strategy was under review. This brought into question the matter of specialisation – capacity is linked to the degree of specialisation yet in most of these cases a police Constable would be at the forefront. Without specialisation there was a problem - the higher the rank the greater the experience of the member. It is important to bring the experience closer to where the crime happens. He was concerned by the constant review of the Strategy instead of panel beating what was not working. He heard Agri SA speak to an approach taken in the Free State – why was this model of success not being replicated or extended? Partnerships are best when dealing with rural safety matters e.g. with the farming unions to build the idea of community policing. The SAPS presentation was not clear on the centrality of CPFs and CSFs as key stakeholders. It would be a problem if these Forums were only partners at a lower level. These Forums must be brought on board in order to integrate the community. Was the challenge that of recognition and value-add?  Was this an omission? The Forums are the best repository of information on what was actually happening in the area. SAPS would be poorer without this valuable information. Emphasis must be placed on driving the community policing concept as a force multiplier. If the police did not view the Strategy as an integrated plan, it would always come second best. This also applied to the matter of reservists. It was said there was a lack of budget but if there were partnerships with other departments there could be a complementary budget. A good example of partnership was seen in Cape Town between the three spheres of government on the matter of trains. He was increasingly concerned by the footprint of informers and the quality thereof. In the correct platform, this should be addressed at some point as he understood the hesitation around discussing this openly.

Gen. Sitole appreciated the input received. The Rural Safety Strategy is a service-promised document for the client and therefore the client must enrich it so that by the time it was executed, it spoke to their needs. The aim was to reach out to all parties on the Strategy hence more input would be appreciated – this would ensure the Strategy spoke to the needs of the client and responded to challenges faced regarding rural safety. Looking at capacity regarding the difference between the tracks of cows and donkeys, there is tracker capacity which was an operational matter. Highly specialised training is given to trackers to enable them to track the evidence and enhance rural safety. The aim is to develop further this capacity to enhance tracking and recovery of stolen stock – a directive was issued to look at this as part and parcel of the revival of specialised units. Members doing the tracking could travel almost 100km on foot doing the job – this formed part and parcel of the love of the job.

The rural safety “back to basics” is part of the turnaround and this also involved informers. When the docket of an investigator was checked, the investigator must prove he had the number of informers which spoke to the national instruction. If the investigator could not provide this, it was a misconduct and the investigator must be defaulted on the spot. This is a monitoring mechanism and long standing direction. Nationally, Crime Detection leadership is supposed to look at the number of informers per province – not meeting the requirement means the matter will go to the performance management system for consequence management. This is not something new.

With the stock card, Gen. Sitole said he was part of designing the model in the Free State. During his time as Provincial Commissioner, the Free State was best performing in terms of rural safety. There are farms where it was well known the numbers of livestock there sharply increased one week but then decreased the next week and so on but no one accounted for this. There were equal challenges with the pounds and their inspections – there is certain evidence for the pounds to produce but this is no longer being done. These basic measures, including the matter of branding, would be reinstated with the turnaround. Security hassles and measures would be raised with the Department of Agriculture and broader stakeholders. There would be quite a lot of investment in horse units. As part of the traditional policing concept, traditional leaders have promised to have 300 horses at a minimum. SAPS would also approach farmers with regard to collaboration on horseback capacity for enhancement and integration of resources.

Gen. Sitole said there was a focus on syndicates as part of the modus operandi shift. This was also as part of following an unconventional policing approach. In the new approach under the turnaround vision, SAPS wants to develop a dispensation that keeps experience where it is e.g. an investigator who had no ambitions of moving up the ranks. The current dispensation was to migrate experience away from where it was located e.g. from provinces to stations. An instruction was issued that all who displayed investigation capacity in the past must be taken back to the investigation environment. Rural Safety Forums would be placed according to strategic level at the level of the JCPS Cluster as part of a multidisciplinary collaborative platform, where all other departments served, subject to direction of the JCPS Cluster. These partners would also be subjected to the performance management system. Rural Safety Priority Committees were at the level of NATJOINTS as an operational structure. The CPFs would function at local level along with CSFs. At national level, as part of the Community Policing Strategy, a national community policing leadership platform would be developed for the CPFs to work together with SAPS. The aim is to institutionalise community policing throughout the country.

Lt. Gen. Jephta spoke to the declassification of stations noting it was something the police was not in control of. If a farmer sells his property, moves and closes the farm, the station would have to be declassified. In the Western Cape, there are two stations to be declassified as the stations no longer have smallholdings or farms. The declassification can only take place at the end of a financial year. At this stage mostly the Western and Northern Cape have been affected by this declassification. There are 20 horse units however the units did not have the same numbers – there are 253 riders and 253 horses currently, mostly in the rural areas. SAPS were looking at partnering with communities in this regard. There are already 180 community horse patrollers around the country, mostly in the North West.

Lt. Gen. LJ Tsumane, SAPS Deputy National Commissioner: Crime Detection, said it was incumbent on SAPS, the Department of Agriculture and COGTA to come together on the matter of pounds. There was reliance on pound holders, which were currently private holders. It cost a lot of money to keep the animals in the pound while the investigation took place – this money was not ring fenced. There are stock theft information centres in the provinces but some key role players were not attending. The matters under discussion today were shared at these centres. Capacity is not supposed to be wanting when it came to differentiating between the track of a donkey and that of a cow – these members received specialised training. This training would also enable the member to tell if a brand was placed on top of another brand on an animal. Shortcomings raised were noted. He emphasised the need for the key departments to come together and assist each other to sort out these matters. It is also important that prosecutors understand the dynamics of stock theft. Joint training for both SAPS’ investigators and prosecutors in this regard would be elevated to the level of the JCPS Cluster.

Mr Maake wanted to understand more about the pounds and what private owners of pounds did. Did the owners look around for livestock, take it in to the pound and then make the owner of the animal pay to get it back? Did SAPS take lost animals to the pound? Sometimes those having to pay to get their livestock back were pensioners. How are these pounds administered?

Ms Molebatsi asked if one paid a stipulated amount at a pound to get one’s animal back, which could not be exceeded.

The Chairperson thought it appropriate that the Department of Agriculture, or local government, come in at this point as this matter was in its terrain.

The Department of Agriculture could not provide a response on the matter of the pound as it would have to first consult with the relevant role players.

Co-Chairperson Semenya explained the pounds were regulated by municipalities – they should be present to explain how these pounds operated. 

Lt. Gen. Tsumane said that if stock was found to be straying on a road, somebody might take it to the pound. If there was no registered pound run by the local municipality in that particular area, the private owners would capitalise on this and the stock would be taken there. An amount would need to be paid to the pound owner to get the stock back. It is important the regulated amounts are checked as sometimes people are being robbed. Municipalities, through COGTA, should provide assistance in this regard. In the North West, the police had to intervene because some people did not have money to have the stock released – this particular pound owner was generous enough to release the stock as the person did not have the money to pay the exorbitant fee requested. These were the kinds of dynamics at play which needed to be regulated. Municipalities should ensure there are pounds which can be used which would prevent reliance on private pound owners.

Mr Johan Bothma, Agri-Western Cape, spoke to the relationship between farmers and farm workers noting initiatives such as in Agri-Limpopo which, in collaboration with the Mark Fish Foundation, was running a soccer competition called Game of Stars among farm workers. Another initiative is in Agri-North West where there is sponsorship of a soccer team in Mafikeng. In the Western Cape there is good cooperation between SAPS and Agri-Western Cape. Initiatives are running in conjunction in the Wellington/Winelands cluster and the Worcester cluster for netball, rugby, soccer and cricket. There are also cultural competitions for choirs, body builders and beauty contests. In the Western Cape, training courses are also run for farm workers to participate as farm watchers in the Wellington/Worcester area in collaboration with SAPS – this is self-funded by farmers. Also in the Western Cape is a farm worker directorate to run competitions among farm workers, farm workers with skills, managers and office personnel. Many short and long term initiatives do exist – perhaps this information should be spread further.

Mr Tommie Esterhuyse, Agri SA, said Agri SA did not keep statistics although some of its affiliates did, such as in the Free State and KZN, however this was not made public unless it was verified with those of the police – Agri SA currently relied on SAPS’ statistics. He suggested inviting the Red Meat Producers organisation to discuss the matter of micro chipping as it was responsible for the new Animal Identification Act – this could be considered for when the Committee next met on this matter. As far as he knew, micro chipping of animals was already being implemented with great success in Namibia. During the term of office of Gen. Sitole as National Commissioner, the Free State started taking rural safety to new levels and the fruits were being reaped. With Agri SA as a “partner” in the Rural Safety Strategy, the aim was to roll this out nationally.  

Mr Kobus Visser, Agri SA, added that a security trust fund was established in 1991 to assist farming communities through the farmers’ associations to secure themselves and provide additional funding to secure the whole community. Since June 2017, the trust fund already funded 32 farmers associations to the amount of R3.8 million – this included 3 100 farmers and approximately 44 000 farm workers who benefitted through the projects. High tech technology was utilised at this stage including facial recognition cameras erected at routes through farmer association areas. It also included communications systems to communicate with the wider community and the purchase of drones, for example in the Cullinan area and Bothaville, for patrolling in proactive operations. Trustees are sincere about police being involved in these projects at a local level. All projects are done within the ambit of the law to secure the entire farming community and not just a certain area.

Gen. Sitole appreciated the support of the Committee and rural safety role players such as Agri SA and AFASA. There would be a rural safety outreach programme to reach out to all rural communities across the country. As soon as the Rural Safety Strategy review is wrapped up it would be presented to the Committee. While the review was underway, the existing strategy continued to be implemented with reviewed approaches and with a focus on current challenges.  The turnaround vision would be linked to a safe and secure foundation for rural economic growth.

In conclusion, the Chairperson noted the meeting was important to get a report on the safety strategy of SAPS. The review was welcomed. The continued involvement of the various role players in this sector is very important. It is vital that the NDP in its full character be implemented – the undertaking that this framework would be included in the Rural Safety Strategy was welcomed. The Committee looked forward to specialised units and resources allocated to the Strategy.

The meeting was adjourned.     

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