Cape Town - Farmers in the Western Cape have claimed R160-million from a state-owned insurance company for damages they suffered during the farmworker strikes.
The South African Special Insurance Association (Sasria) received 370 claims from the province during the past year – the majority of claims relating to the farm strikes, Sasria managing director Cedric Masondo said on Thursday.
Sasria received its biggest claim, R70m for damage to a warehouse and vineyard, since it was established in 1979.
This was despite the fact that most of the farming community were unaware of the insurer or its products, the insurer noted in its latest annual report.
Thousands of workers brought Boland towns to a standstill between November and February to demand better wages and living conditions.
Streets were blockaded in towns like De Doorns and Wolseley while incidents of arson to warehouses and vineyards were also recorded.
The insurer was created to provide cover for political risks in the 1980s but had since changed to include damages due to labour strikes.
The number of claims increased by 91 percent during the past year.
Sasria’s payout of claims also increased from R231m last year to R644m this year.
A third of these claims came from the Western Cape.
The main driver for the past year’s increase was the number of labour strikes and its financial impact.
These included the mining, farmworkers and various other strikes.
Sasria received claims of R53m for the mining strikes and R65m for the truck drivers’ strike.
In the Western Cape the claims related to damage to warehouses, machinery, wooden crates, vineyards and tractors.
Masondo said the insurer also received claims for loss of cars of people who were caught in the violent protest, shops including damage to one of the big chain supermarkets and businesses who lost profits because of the strike.
Masondo said the R52m in claims from the Western Cape were because of service delivery protests around Cape Town, specifically in Nyanga, Khayelitsha and Philippi.
He said most township small businesses or shop owners do not buy insurance at all which means that they also do not buy Sasria insurance.
“Claims from townships will be municipality properties, cars owned by individuals, delivery trucks and in some cases cars belonging to media,” he said.
Masondo said they accepted all claims from the Western Cape and 70 percent had been settled already and the money paid to clients.
“The balance is still pending and we are busy finalising claims and in some cases we have paid interim payment,” he said.
“Big claims that involved building construction take longer to settle because the building needs to be reinstated and those we pay in phases until the building is completed.”
- Cape Times