Cape Town - The safety of farmworkers transported in open trucks is again in the spotlight following the accident on Monday which saw 35 workers injured, with Cosatu asking for urgent intervention before people are killed.
Cosatu provincial spokesperson Malvern de Bruyn said the issue of farmworker transport calls for action at the highest level.
“How many people must die before the farmers, provincial and national government intervene to ensure that farmworkers are treated as human beings and transported in safe modes of transport,” De Bruyn asked.
De Bruyn said Cosatu had called on the Human Rights Commission to investigate further and they will monitor the situation closely. They’ve also discussed the possibility of instituting civil claims on behalf of the farm workers.
Last year, three farmworkers died when 40 women were flung off the back of a 4-ton truck when the driver allegedly lost control of the vehicle. The accident happened at Kannetvlei between Worcester and De Doorns.
A truck transporting about 80 farmworkers crashed near Paarl in the Western Cape on Wednesday, January 27, leaving at least two people seriously injured. The truck overturned on the R44, before the Durbanville offramp.
In the latest accident it remains unknown whether the female farmworkers were travelling with their own transport.
ANC provincial spokesperson for agriculture Pat Marran said: “The biggest stumbling block is regulation 247/8 of the National Land and Transport Regulations.
“It allows employers to transport workers at the back of bakkies and trucks, as long as the seated rail should be 300mm high and when standing 900mm.”
Marran said the provincial Department of Agriculture had written to Public Works and to the national department but has had no response.
DA spokesperson on labour Michael Bagraim encouraged the farmworkers who were injured in the accident to receive a Compensation Fund registration number.
He said that should any injuries persist, or if an employer should require further assistance, the Compensation Fund could help.