Stock thieves in the Free State province are taking advantage of the lockdown as is witnessed by the alarming incidences of stock theft since lockdown began.
Visible and other forms of policing were already poor in rural areas before lockdown, and are now negatively affected by the increased SAPS requirements related to lockdown enforcement in urban areas. Farm patrols are important instruments for the agricultural sector to prevent stock theft and other crimes and are now being frustrated by lockdown regulations.
The increased stock theft has been accompanied by more instances of livestock that are slaughtered on the ground before transportation, or mutilated by having muscle tissue cut from them whilst alive. The limitations placed on vehicle movement have not curbed stock theft as carcasses and meat are transported by foot.
With more people losing livelihoods during lockdown and increased hunger in communities, it can be expected that food related crimes will increase. In this respect our rural agricultural sector is increasingly falling victim of the economic impacts of lockdown in urban areas.
Neighbourhood watches, Community Policing Forums and farm patrols have had positive impacts on crime prevention in the Free State. The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Free State therefore support the calls by the DA’s Shadow Minister for Police, Andrew Whitfield, to implement the DA’s smart deployment of these bodies in the province.
The state has a responsibility to protect people and businesses from crime, especially when government regulations make it difficult for people to protect themselves.
The DA’s private member’s Bill, the Community Policing Bill, that has been submitted to the Free State Legislature for processing deals with the registration and support of such bodies in the province.
While the DA at national level continues to lobby for civil society organisations to assist with crime prevention through visible policing, the DA in the Free State Legislature will request that this Bill is expedited as the work of the Legislature begins this week.