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On 5 September 2022, the board of trustees of the Agri Securitas Trust Fund met to consider requests for financial support for rural safety projects and the board approved R1,9 million for disbursement. However, this is a drop in the ocean given the scale and cost of agricultural crime to the sector.
The fund received requests from 22 farmer associations in five provinces. Funds were allocated to farmer associations in North West, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and the Free State. Yet the need remains overwhelming.
In 2018 alone, the total cost of agricultural crime exceeded R7,72 billion and necessitated the installation of security equipment to the value of R1,9 billion. The degree to which the farming community is subject to violence and property-related crime poses an enormous problem for the sector and impacts negatively on food security and agricultural investment.
“The farming community’s safety is a food security issue. The vulnerability of farming and rural communities is therefore not only a farmer issue but a community issue and a national imperative. It is therefore important to support farming communities in their vigilance to safeguard them as well as their workers,” said Cobus van Zyl, chairperson of the Agri Securitas Trust Fund.
The Agri Securitas Trust Fund was established in 1999 to assist farming communities to safeguard farmers, workers, and operations by working with local farming communities and the police. Since its inception, the trust fund has disbursed more than R16 million, thanks to donations from the private sector. This funding has filled a critical gap in the state’s policing capacity.
‘’Most of the funding requests from farmer associations were for the installation or expansion of camera systems. These are reported by local communities to be the most successful method for both deterrence and tracking of suspects. These systems cover large parts of the rural areas and their blanket coverage provides valuable information in the investigation of criminal activities,” said Van Zyl.
Donations help secure rural communities
“Agri SA is grateful to the trust fund for making these contributions to our farmer associations, and for the donations of corporate institutions and other private sector donors. We urge South Africans to continue to contribute to the trust to fill this vital gap. It is these donations that secure our farming communities and enable them to produce food so the people of our country have food on the table,” said Christo van der Rheede, executive director of Agri SA.
“More importantly, we continue to urge minister Bheki Cele to fast-track the more effective implementation of the rural safety strategy. This is the only real way to prevent crime in our farming communities, saving both lives and businesses, and ensuring that South Africans continue to enjoy food security for generations to come,” says Van der Rheede.
For more information, contact Kobus Visser of Agri Securitas Trust Fund at 082 388 0010, Christo van der Rheede, executive director of Agri SA, at 083 380 3492, or Cobus van Zyl, chairperson of Agri Securitas Trust Fund at 083 283 7076. You can also visit their website at https://agrisecuritas.org/ – Press release, Agri Securitas Trust Fund