#RuralSafety: Thousands petition the president to act on rural safety now, says DA

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JOHANNESBURG, June 30 – The Democratic Alliance has received thousands of signatures from concerned residents petitioning President Cyril Ramaphosa to act to protect rural communities, the DA said on Sunday.

The DA launched the campaign last week on #RuralSafety as a result of the unprecedented number of attacks on people who live in rural communities, DA spokeswoman Ina Cilliers said.

A total of 184 farm attacks and 20 farm murders had occurred in the country since the start of the year. Gauteng had recorded the highest number of attacks with 51 incidents, she said.

At the end of 2018 there were 29,000 reported cases of livestock theft in South Africa. This was costing the country billions of rand and was taking its toll on the agricultural economy. A University of South Africa study on rural safety found that R1.3 billion was lost to livestock theft in one year.

“The increased attacks on our farming communities is as a result of a lack of political leadership. The government’s rural safety strategy has been a dismal failure, because police stations in the most hard-hit rural areas are understaffed and under-resourced. SAPS [South African Police Service] is increasingly unable to protect rural communities,” Cilliers said.

Farming played a major role in creating employment opportunities, ensuring food security, and contributing to the GDP. To address this problem, a number of interventions were urgently needed, including:

– Rural Safety Units must be reintroduced and properly resourced;
– Innovation in new technology such as surveillance drones, ShotSpotter and geofencing must be explored as a matter of urgency;
– SAPS must declare rural crime a priority, and keep separate and accurate statistics so that the success or failure of interventions can be measured; and
– The police reservist programme in farm areas must be properly implemented with a concerted effort to recruit and train farmers, farm workers, and farm dwellers.

Cilliers called on all South Africans to help keep rural communities safe by signing the petition (https://petitions.da.org.za/p/ruralcommunities) which is to be handed over to the president. Food producers were a national asset and they could not work if they were not safe. “Our rural communities are under siege, which is impacting on our food security. We need to act now,” she said.

– African News Agency (ANA)