Strikes close four De Doorns clinics

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AP

Striking farmworkers throw rocks at police in De Doorns. File photo: AP

De Doorns - Four clinics in De Doorns were closed on Tuesday because of the farmworker strike, Western Cape health authorities said.

“We cannot afford to put our health workers who work at these clinics at risk, and so are forced to close the clinics,” health MEC Theuns Botha said in a statement.

“It is quite ironic to think that the issues at stake for farmworkers are about human dignity but at the same time the situation is depriving our patients of a basic right, as set out in the constitution.”

Botha said there were many other ways for farmworkers to voice their grievances other than being violent.

The department temporary closed the Orchard, Sandhills, De Doorns and Wolseley clinics.

“It is disappointing that we have to close down our health services and deprive people that are dependent on our health services,” Botha said.

Farmworkers went on strike last year to demand their daily wage be increased from R69 to R150, and that a coherent land reform programme be implemented.

The strike was suspended in December, but resumed on Wednesday last week.

The labour department was holding further public hearings on the review of farmworkers' minimum wages across the Western Cape from Monday evening.

People who needed medical assistance should make use of the Emergency Medical Services, Botha said.

The department urged striking farmworkers to allow health staff a “safe passage to clinics”.

No violent incidents were reported on Tuesday in any of the areas affected by the strike, police said.

On Monday, a police officer was injured in Villiersdorp when he was struck by stones thrown at a police station.

Police arrested 16 people for public violence in De Doorns, nine in Wolseley, 12 in Villiersdorp, and two in Ladysmith.

Workers set tyres alight at the De Doorns police station, but no damage was caused. In Wolseley, the situation was similar; protesters threw stones at police and burned tyres.

The R43 road in Worcester was closed because burning tyres were strewn across it.

At least 167 people had been arrested since Wednesday last week. On Monday alone 42 people were arrested, mainly for public violence.

Public hearings would continue on Tuesday evening in Paarl.

Hearings had been set down for De Doorns, Robertson, Oudtshoorn and Vredendal for the remainder of the week, but venues had yet to be confirmed.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant was expected to make an announcement on the new wage determination in February. This would come into effect from March 1. - Sapa


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