Farmworkers’ transportation safety in the spotlight following deadly crash

Rural and Farmworkers Development Organisation director Billy Claasen said for years they’ve been urging government to look into their concerns but nothing has happened.

Three farmworkers were killed when the driver of a truck transporting them lost control of the vehicle near Worcester in the Western Cape on 4 January 2021. Picture: Supplied.

CAPE TOWN - Concerns have once again been raised over farmworkers’ transportation following a deadly crash earlier this week.

Three farm workers died and more than 20 people were injured in an accident near Worcester.

A four-ton truck was carrying 30 to 40 farm workers when the driver lost control of the vehicle.

In April last year, two trucks collided on the N1 between Touws Rivier and De Doorns - nine workers died and 18 were injured.

Rural and Farmworkers Development Organisation director Billy Claasen said for years they had been urging government to look into their concerns, but nothing had happened.

“Trucks are overloaded and people are sitting crowded in these trucks. This must stop. We cannot tolerate this anymore – we need to sit and have discussions with the Department of Labour and the farmers themselves to discuss ways forward.”

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in the Western Cape called on the Minister of Employment and Labour to ban the transportation of farmworkers on trucks.

The union's Malvern De Bruyn said, “Farmers can buy proper transport like combis to transport workers to work and back, or even buses. But year after year you’ll have the same issue of trucks not being safe enough for workers.”

The trade union will also be approaching the Human Rights Commission to investigate the incident.

Meanwhile, provincial government said transporting agri-workers on open trucks posed a significant threat to the safety of workers; and Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza wanted all in the sector to look at the issue of transportation.

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