The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has learnt that the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has no plans in place to assist farmers with safety in rural areas.
This was revealed to me by the MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Winifred Mosupyoe, in a reply to my written questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).
According to the MEC, the department is not directly responsible for rural safety, and that it is a joint responsibility of the Department of Community Safety and the South African Police Service (SAPS).
Furthermore, the MEC said the department does not have any intention to amend its extension services, so that they can assist the agriculture sector with rural safety and technology innovation around rural safety. In addition, the extension and advisory service officials are not trained on matters of safety and crime issues.
It is disappointing that this department which has a core mandate of ensuring the growth of agriculture and rural development in this province cares little about the safety of its key stakeholders, namely farmers.
Despite the fact that its officials are not trained to deal with matters of safety and crime, this department must have a focus on the critical issue of rural safety which has a direct impact on the security of food supply in our province.
SAPS and the Department of Community Safety won’t be able to understand the safety requirements of the farmers without the assistance of the department that has a responsibility to cater for the needs of farmers.
Where we govern in the Western Cape, the provincial Department of Agriculture has a plan for ensuring rural safety. It is engaging with district municipalities regarding their safety plans with a view to funding projects that focus on innovation, partnerships and technology yet in Gauteng not much has been done in these areas.
The same applies in the DA-led Midvaal Municipality, which has procured 25 thermal FLIR Handheld Cameras that were distributed to farmers to assist with rural safety. One control room has been made available to assist with radio communications to all Community CPFs, Neighbourhood Watches, community forums and Farmers’ Associations. 150 surveillance cameras are being monitored, and 2000 community members have been trained and equipped to assist in night patrols. Midvaal also supports 250 CPFs, 80 farm watches and over 1000 members of the fire protection association.
We call on MEC Mosupyoe to do things differently by implementing what the DA is doing where we govern in order to ensure rural safety. We also urge South Africans to sign our petition: https://petitions.da.org.za/p/ruralcommunities