Calls to probe ‘inhumane’ transportation of farmworkers
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Cape Town - The death of a farmworker in Worcester on Monday has sparked renewed calls for the government to look at the issue of transportation of farmworkers in the country.
Doreen Frieselaar died after a truck driver transporting close to 40 female workers lost control of the vehicle and crashed, leaving 12 injured.
Rural and Farmworkers Development Organisation director Billy Claasen said the accident has put a spotlight on the transportation of farmworkers generally and within the lockdown.
"Farmworkers are being transported like animals packed on top of each other and this must come to an end. Every year there is an accident and there is nothing done about it.
“Farmers in other towns are violating curfew where workers are picked up at 5 o'clock in the morning and police are doing nothing about this and we have raised this with the police minister who said he will look into this," said Claasen.
ANC provincial spokesperson for Agriculture Pat Marran said the accident was one of many, and it won’t be the last. He said many workers have died in a similar fashion transported by trucks.
"This is an issue that we’ve raised with farmers, farmers’ organisations as well as the government for the last couple of years. They turn a deaf ear to the worker’s plea to be transported in better ways. It’s not all farmers but the majority is still transporting workers on open trucks where workers are facing ’blind’, either looking sideways when sitting or facing in the opposite direction as the truck is travelling, " he said.
Marran said they will continue to engage government as well as farmers and organisations.
"It's inhumane to transport workers in that fashion and it will remain inhumane. No one will convince us otherwise," he said.
Earlier Cosatu called on the Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi to ban the transportation of farmworkers on trucks. The union also called on the Human Rights Commission to investigate the matter as it believed that the rights of the workers have been infringed.
Meerlust Plase CEO Jaco du Toit said the farm has been in contact with the family of the deceased and was assisting with the arrangements as well as the costs of the funeral.