2012 | 4(2) | 191-214
Article title

Rural Safety in South Africa: a Study on Rural Self-Protection Units in the Soutpansberg Area of Limpopo, South Africa

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The article comes at a time when farm attacks are once again under the spotlight following the spate of murders that occurred lately. The farming community in South Africa, for about three decades, formed part of a rural safety plan through the commando system. This system was phased out though the threat to life and limb on the farms has continued unabated.The article takes a look at the development of the commando system and its characteristics of area, and house and hearth protection and how this system became entrenched in the farming communities over hundreds of years. After the closure of the commandos, farming communities increasingly developed a self-protection system for house and hearth protection to fill the void left by the commandos. Due to the life and death nature of attacks, and the fact that they involve high levels of violence, the perception that government and the police are not really serious about stopping the attacks has taken a firm hold. In Limpopo, this perception was further entrenched, by the former Provincial Police Commissioner who did not want to meet with the farmers. This has led to very negative perceptions of the police amongst farmers and an increasing tendency towards developing and improving their own structures for safety and security. Naturally they reverted to a system that has served farmers for almost 300 years, the commando system. The article gives an account of how the self protection structures in the Soutpansberg are modeled on the commando system.
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