SA farmers get behind police in fight against rural crime
South Africa's largest commercial farming union Agri SA will start enlisting volunteer reservists again to help police combat crime in rural areas, following a year's moratorium on recruitment.
Agri SA Rural Safety Committee chair André Botha, said he expected police minister Nathi Mthethwa to sign a policy on reservist recruitment within the next few days.
"The policy will cover who can join the reservists with a selection criteria to gain the right profile of person," explained Botha who said there were problems in the past when some "bad apples" joined.
He said the volunteer reservist force had worked extremely well but a government decision to recruit paid employees resulted in people who were purely motivated by money and insufficiently committed to joining the force.
Botha said his union was keen to take a pro-active rather than reactive stance, working positively with the police.
"We will have a drive to recruit more farmers and rural workers in country areas to support rural police stations. We will become a force multiplier patrolling these areas and having a visible presence to ensure crime doesn't happen."
South African farm murders were recently highlighted in the media following another farm union, Traansval Agricultural Union (TUA) SA's success in persuading 48 European parliamentarians to sign a motion condemning attacks on farmers.
TAU SA claims since 1990 more than 1,550 farmers had been murdered on their farms in SA with many more farmers, farming families and farm employees attacked during the same period.
However, Botha said the image that farm violence in South Africa was on the rise was misleading , as farm murder figures have dropped.
"Unfortunately the message which gets sent out is that South Africa is like the Wild West and there is a bandit behind every tree and that's not true," he said.
However, Botha was quick to stress that one farmer's death was "one too many" and that his union took this issue extremely seriously.
The reservists currently have a national force of 127,000 recruited and trained members.