NATIONAL NEWS - The chairperson of Agri Western Cape's Rural Safety Policy Committee, Uys van der Westhuijzen, was elected as chairperson of Agri SA's Center of Excellence: Rural Safety this week.
His involvement with organized agriculture spans many years.
Van der Westhuijzen, who farms outside Malmesbury in the direction of Klipheuwel, joined the Malmesbury Agricultural Association in 1986, where he served as chairman from 2012 - 2013.
It was during this time with the unrest situation in 2012 in De Doorns that he became actively involved with Agri Western Cape's policy committee for rural safety.
He is a senior reserve force officer with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. In 2018, he was the first South African Defense Force officer to be elected chairman of the International CIOR Military Skills Committee, which is affiliated with NATO and which evaluates military skills.
He was also the commander of the Commando in the West Coast region between 1998 and 2008 and has served as chairman of Agri Western Cape's policy committee for rural security since 2014.
Van der Westhuijzen says it is critical that all the role players mentioned in the SAPS Rural Safety Strategy work with Agri SA and its provincial affiliates to address rural safety.
He says rural crime is not the problem of the SAPS and the agricultural sector alone.
"The country's social and economic situation plays a major role in crime, and departments such as Education and Social Development must be part of the solution. When we focus on crime alone, we are reactive. All the role players must sit around the table to work proactively for the sake of safer communities,” he says.
He says rural safety doesn’t refer to farms only.
"All residents of the rural areas are exposed to and suffering from crime. Crime and investment do not go hand in hand. Safe environments attract investment, so a well-coordinated and integrated approach between all role players is needed to tackle the issue of rural security together.”
Jannie Strydom, CEO of Agri Western Cape, says the organization is proud of Van der Westhuijzen's election at Agri SA level. "Mr Van der Westhuijzen is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to all aspects of rural security.
The work he has done over many years at rural safety level at Agri Western Cape also speaks of a passion and drive to make our rural communities safe. We know he is the right person to lead Agri SA's Center of Excellence for rural safety and wish him all the best,” Strydom said.
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