Western Cape partners with red meat producers to tackle stock theft

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA) has collaborated with the Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (RPO) to tackle stock theft, which is one of the main obstacles to producers.

“This will enable the RPO to purchase infrared night vision equipment to combat stock theft. Doing so will contribute to safer rural communities and continued employment opportunities in the red meat industry,” the Western Cape MEC for Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, announced.

Meyer and the Western Cape MEC for Police Oversight and Community Safety, Reagen Allen, spoke during the Western Cape Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) quarterly meeting on Rural Safety at Elsenburg, Stellenbosch.

Commenting on the recent crime statistics about stock theft, Allen noted that the fourth quarter crime statistics, from January to March 2023 this year, show that livestock theft has an overall decrease of 0.7% across the province.

“This is largely due to huge reductions in the West Coast district of 65.6% and 21.1% in the Overberg district. The City of Cape Town also had a reduction of 8.2%. We are however deeply concerned about the increases of 52% in the Cape Winelands, 20% in the Garden Route and 17.2% in the Central Karoo.”

A key theme of the meeting was to highlight the importance of partnership to ensure the safety of citizens and the collaborative nature in which the South African Police Services (SAPS), the Western Cape Government (WCG) and community structures are working towards advancing rural safety.

MEC Meyer said: “The WCG has worked hard to implement the Provincial Rural Safety Plan, which requires the government to form partnerships with the SAPS, neighbourhood and farm watches, the private sector and any other structure that can contribute towards making our rural communities safer.”

Allen told the community that the provincial government aims to ensure that every corner of the Western Cape becomes a safer space.

“This collaboration between the two departments demonstrates the Western Cape Safety Plan (WCSP) coming to life. Our residents should be able to live free from fear and in an improved, safer and dignified manner. Our farm workers and owners should be able to go about their business of feeding the nation and boosting our economy without having to be concerned that criminals will target them.”

In addition, the MECs welcomed the news to establish a further 200 neighbourhood or farm watches this year and the Court Watching Briefs, which will be extended to all courts in the Western Cape.

Meyer stressed that the WCDoA recently added the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), RPO and Philani Training and Development Solutions to their list of partners.

“Rural communities face water safety concerns as most agri-workers live on farms and have limited access to public swimming pools with lifeguards. Our partnership with the NSRI brings water safety for farming and rural communities within the province closer to our agri-workers.”

The partnership with Philani Training and Development Solutions and several producers will bring healthcare skills that result in the employment of trained community health workers on farms in the Koue Bokkeveld.

According to Meyer, the programme will improve access to health care, including services to prevent illness, manage disease, and address the unique challenges agri-workers face.

The MECs said they would continue to forge ahead with plans to ensure that farmers, farmworkers and rural communities, the backbone of the agricultural economy, are safe.

“The WCG and all its agencies and partners are doing their utmost to protect farmers, producers, agri-workers, and our rural communities.

“We will not cease in our efforts to ensure greater safety for all,” the MECs added.

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