Visitors to South Africa’s rural Eastern Cape may start spotting something usually not associated with the region’s open expanses – high-tech roadside cameras. These are the result of Agri Eastern Cape’s steps to fight rural crime. The organisation has begun working with farmers and security service providers to install an advanced camera system to help crack down on criminals.
The Licence Plate Recognition (LPR) camera system has been installed on rural roads across the province, and has already led to the arrest of a number of suspected criminals. Since its inception last year, the camera system has paid dividends not just for farmers but also for the surrounding rural communities and the police, who make extensive use of the system in investigating crime.
Crime-fighting successes include two farm attack arrests and convictions, 11 arrests for stock theft, as well as arrests for possession of stolen goods, unlicensed firearms, stolen vehicles and even shoplifting.
The LPR project was first implemented in the small farming town of Alexandria after the brutal attack on, and subsequent death of, cattle farmer Riaan Scheepers in November 2017. In May last year, the Alexandria Agricultural Association initiated the project, erecting the first camera on the R72 entering the town.
Just over a year on, a further 101 installations are now operational in three district municipalities across the province with at least another 29 installations on the cards.