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Agri SA welcomes rural crime-fighting units

Agri SA on Friday welcomed an announcement by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa that crime-fighting units would be reinstated in rural areas.

“After the phasing-out of the commando system, and given the delays experienced with the finalisation of the reservist policy, rural communities remain vulnerable to crime,” Agri SA rural safety committee chair Andre Botha said.

“We expect the police to make optimal use of the crime-fighting units, within this strategy, in order to combat crime.”

He said stock theft was a particularly big problem affecting the profitability of commercial stock farmers and small-scale farmers, who sometimes lost their entire herd during one theft incident.

“The 6,5% increase in stock theft in the past year illustrates the seriousness of this crime for the agricultural sector.

“Agri SA also welcomes the minister’s announcement that the police already have initiatives in place to address these increases, that the functioning of stock-theft units was being reviewed, and that legislation would be revised to combat stock theft more effectively,” Botha said.

He urged Mthethwa, who released crime statistics on Thursday, to “urgently finalise” the rural protection strategy.

“This will offer the farming community an opportunity to become actively involved as reservists in crime-fighting operations.

“Agri SA would like to enter into discussion with the minister regarding the practical implications of yesterday’s [Thursday] announcement and finalisation of the strategy and policy,” Botha said. — Sapa

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