FSA calls for more police task forces in Free State

The police task force that was formed after the murder of Brendin Horner in the Bethlehem Control Room’s service area, meets regularly. This task team, which was compiled at the request of organized agriculture as well as the farming community in the area and which consists of various divisions of the SAPS, focuses mainly on police involvement and corruption in the organized theft of livestock.

Jakkals le Roux, chairman of the Free State Agriculture (FSA) Rural Safety Committee, confirms that feedback from the task team to farming communities takes place on a “need to know” principle. “However, what is still of concern to farming communities in the area is the lack of capacity within the livestock theft unit that serves the area.” says Le Roux.

A serious request by FSA was repeatedly raised with the office of the Free State MEC for Police, Roads and Transport, Mr Sam Mashinini, the Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in the Free State as well as with Forums at national level (AgriSA and Livestock Theft Prevention Forum) to empower stock theft units in the Free State and especially adjacent to the RSA / Lesotho border with sufficient manpower, vehicles and equipment as they have such a large service area. The Bethlehem area is one of them. Le Roux mentions that there has been no change at all to assist the livestock theft unit and farming communities in this regard. “The only conclusion we can therefore draw is that stock theft is not really a priority for the police and the minister and that there is also no real will to address it.”

Meanwhile, Tommie Esterhuyse, vice-president of FSA, says that the organization’s memorandum with the Free State MEC for Police, Roads and Transport, which was signed on 13 October 2020, must receive further attention. The memorandum between FSA and the MEC calls for police involvement and corruption to be actively addressed by the police with the composition of task forces in the province to investigate especially farm attacks and organized theft of livestock. The request has manifested in the composition of one task force in the Bethlehem area over the past 6 months.

Esterhuyse further mentions that FSA pointed out during a meeting with the provincial management of the SAPS in October 2020, that information regarding alleged police corruption in crimes on agricultural land and especially livestock theft has already been received from 14 towns’ farming communities. As far as FSA’s knowledge is concerned, no other task teams have been set up in the Free State where farming communities could pass on their information to a convener of the police or the Hawks. The lack of the implementation of a working method by the police to establish such structures and communication in all districts of the Free State over the past 6 months is problematic, as the necessary linking of information does not take place.

FSA therefore makes an urgent request to the Free State MEC for Police, Roads and Transport to establish such a working method that can be made available to farming communities. Such actions will indicate that police corruption in all areas of the Free State is taken seriously, FSA says.

VL vra meer polisie taakspanne in Vrystaat

Die polisie taakspan wat na die moord op Brendin Horner in die Bethlehem Beheerkamer se bedieningsgebied saamgestel is, vergader gereeld. Dié taakspan, wat op versoek van georganiseerde landbou asook die boerderygemeenskap in die area saamgestel is en wat uit verskeie divisies van die SAPD bestaan, fokus hoofsaaklik op polisie betrokkenheid en -korrupsie in die georganiseerdheid van veediefstal.

Jakkals le Roux, voorsitter van Vrystaat Landbou (VL) se Landelike Veiligheidskomitee, bevestig dat terugvoer van die taakspan aan boerderygemeenskappe op ’n “need to know” beginsel plaasvind.  “Wat egter nog vir boerderygemeenskappe in die area kommerwekkend is, is die gebrek aan kapasiteit binne die veediefstal-eenheid wat die area bedien.” sê Le Roux.

’n Ernstige versoek deur VL is herhaaldelik met die kantoor van die Vrystaatse LUR van Polisie, Paaie en Vervoer, mnr Sam Mashinini, die Provinsiale Kommissaris van die SAPD in die Vrystaat asook met Forums op nasionale vlak (AgriSA en Veediefstal Voorkomings Forum) opgeneem ten einde veediefstal-eenhede in die Vrystaat en veral aangrensend tot die RSA/Lesotho grens te bemagtig met genoegsame mannekrag, voertuie en toerusting aangesien hulle so ’n groot bedieningsgebied het. Die Bethlehem-area is juis een van hulle. Le Roux noem dat daar nog geensins enige verandering gekom het om die veediefstal-eenheid en boerderygemeenskappe in die verband tot hulp te wees nie. “Die enigste afleiding wat ons dus kan maak is dat veediefstal nie werklik ’n prioriteit vir die polisie en die minister is nie en dat daar ook nie ’n daadwerklike wil is om dit aan te spreek nie.”

Intussen sê Tommie Esterhuyse, vise-president van VL, dat die organisasie se memorandum met die Vrystaatse LUR vir Polisie, Paaie en Vervoer wat op 13 Oktober 2020 onderteken is, verder aandag moet geniet. Die memorandum tussen VL en die LUR versoek dat polisie betrokkenheid en -korrupsie daadwerklik aandag moet geniet deur die polisie met die saamstel van taakspanne in die provinsie om veral plaasaanvalle en georganiseerdheid van veediefstal te ondersoek. Die versoek het gemanifesteer in die samestelling van een taakspan in die Bethlehem-area die afgelope 6 maande.

Esterhuyse noem verder dat VL tydens ’n vergadering met die provinsiale bestuur van die SAPD in Oktober 2020 uitgewys het dat inligting alreeds van 14 dorpe se boerderygemeenskappe ontvang is wat dui op beweerde polisie korrupsie by misdade op landbougrond en veral veediefstal. Sover VL se kennis strek, is geen ander taakspanne in die Vrystaat saamgestel waar boerderygemeenskappe hul inligting aan ’n sameroeper van die polisie en of die Valke kon deurgee nie. Die gebrek aan die inwerkingstelling van ’n werkswyse deur die polisie om sodanige strukture en kommunikasie in alle distrikte van die Vrystaat die afgelope 6 maande daar te stel, is problematies aangesien die nodige skakeling van inligting nie plaasvind nie.

VL rig dus ’n dringende versoek aan die Vrystaatse LUR van Polisie, Paaie en Vervoer om sodanige werkswyse te vestig wat aan boerderygemeenskappe beskikbaar gestel kan word. Sodanige optrede sal dui dat polisie korrupsie in alle areas van die Vrystaat ernstig opgeneem word, meen VL.