SAPS urged to strengthen policing in rural areas

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The South African Police Service (SAPS) must focus on strengthening the leadership at rural police stations if it’s Rural Safety Strategy is to be effective, says Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police.

The committee on Wednesday received presentations from various stakeholders, with the aim of finding workable solutions to increasing crime levels in rural areas.

The strategy tries to address the ongoing violent crimes perpetrated against rural communities, including incidents on farms as well as the high levels of stock theft.

“The overarching principle in fighting crime should be anchored on strong leadership, able to develop and implement an effective strategy, coupled with monitoring and evaluation tools to assess the impact.

“The strengthening of reservists as force multipliers, especially in rural areas, can be used to an effective tool to fight crime in these communities,” said chairperson of the portfolio committee, Francois Beukman.

Beukman said it is untenable for some rural police stations, which only have one or two cars, to service an extensive area.

“Furthermore, the lack of appropriate technology, such as quad bikes, specialised information technology tools, helicopters and 4x4 vehicles is concerning, as this hampers the effective implementation of the Rural Safety Strategy,” said Beukman.

The committee also called for the consolidation of resources between stakeholders and SAPS to effectively fight crime. 

In relation to the illicit economy, including stock theft, the committee highlighted the need for the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster to develop guidelines to ensure criminals are prosecuted effectively.  

Besides these concerns, the committee emphasised the need for a broad, multi-sectoral approach to dealing with crime in rural areas. It stressed that jobs-intensive economic growth is central to reducing unemployment and capacitating young people, enabling them to meaningfully participate in economic activity.

“When people are gainfully employed, they will in all likelihood not be inclined to commit crime. Furthermore, the departments of Basic Education and Higher Education must play a leading role in rolling out their programmes in rural areas to ensure that the rural population also benefits,” said Beukman.

He also spoke of fighting substance abuse as it is a major contributing factor to crime.

The committee said there was a need for the re-establishment of specialised units to deal with the rising levels of crime, including rural crime.

The committee welcomed the commitment by stakeholders, such as Agri-SA, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa, to work with the SAPS to fight crime. –