Lt. Genl. Deputy police commissioner Fannie Masemola confirmed Friday neighborhood watches and farm patrols may resume during level 3 of seclusion. This comes after there has been uncertainty as to whether neighborhood and farm guards may resume their operations during level 3 of seclusion.
Members of neighborhood and farm guards must now have a permit to provide their service to their respective communities.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, announced on May 28 that anyone at level 3 of seclusion may leave their home to provide a specific service. However, some organizations have still faced opposition from the police to continue their neighborhood and farm patrols.
The civil rights organization AfriForum and Saai, the agricultural network for family farmers, held a nationwide resistance patrol on Saturday after neighborhood watchmen received fierce opposition from some police officers to resume their operations at level 3.
AfriForum was of the opinion that the level 3 isolation regulations did not exclude the activities of neighborhood, holding and farm guards, and members of this organization then continued their neighborhood, holding and farm patrols.
Ian Cameron, AfriForum’s Head of Community Safety, says the resistance patrol has led Masemola to understand AfriForum’s interpretation of the regulations and he has sent a letter to all provincial and unit commissioners.
AfriForum believes that the safety of communities should be a priority.
“Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has proven that she is incompetent by not considering community safety as a primary priority. The fact that AfriForum had to apply pressure to bring it home to the authorities that neighborhood, holding and farm guards play an indispensable role in the safety of communities and should resume their tasks as soon as possible, confirms this, ”Cameron said.
However, Cameron says the fact that members of neighborhood and farm guards must have permits to patrol is contrary to government regulations. “The government’s and police’s interpretation of the current regulations is still not entirely correct. It does not comply with the regulations. Members of neighborhood and farm guards will only need permits if they have to travel across district, subway or provincial borders to perform their service, ”Cameron says.
Albert Fritz, the community safety minister in the Western Cape, says police cannot issue permits to neighborhood watch members, but only the Department of Community Safety. He says the Department of Community Safety will only issue permits to members of accredited neighborhood and farm watch structures.
“Presidents of all accredited neighborhood watch structures were communicated about the protocols they must adhere to when resuming neighborhood watch operations,” Fritz says.
Meanwhile, the North West DA has also welcomed the resumption of farm patrols and neighborhood watches. The DA has insisted on the reinstatement of farm patrols, community policing forums and neighborhood watches since the beginning of the secession period.
Jacqueline Theologo, the DA’s spokesperson for agriculture and rural development in the North West, says there was a clear increase in stock theft and farm attacks during the seclusion period and this could be directly linked to the ban on farm patrols.
Three farm attacks have been reported in the North West over the past week.
“The high percentage of farm attacks has a negative impact on the quality of life of farmers and their employees and communities that depend on the agricultural sector. The government will have to act urgently to ensure the safety of rural communities. The reinstatement of rural security units within the police needs to be addressed again without further delay, ”says Theologo.
The Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU SA) has also urged Police Minister Bheki Cele since April to allow rural security structures to continue their work during the secession period.
This union created a platform on which South Africans could support a petition to exert pressure on the government to reactivate farm and neighborhood watches. More than 10,000 signatures were received with the petition.