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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

Farm Workers killed in Limpopo

08 - 11 - 06

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is saddened and angry at the accident at Mankweng in Limpopo, which claimed the lives of five farm workers and injured eleven, two of whom are in a critical condition. We send our condolences to the families and f riends of the deceased and best wishes to the injured for a full recovery.

This is yet another fatal accident involving workers being carried in the back of an open bakkie. The driver lost control after a tyre burst and the bakkie collided head-on with a truck. The workers, mostly women from four villages around Mankweng, were be ing transported to ZZ2 - a tomato farm at Moeketsi near Modjadji's KIoof.

COSATU has repeatedly demanded an end to the practice of using open bakkies to transport workers. They are not designed for carrying passengers. While passengers in comparative safety inside vehicles are rightly compelled to wear seat belts, people on a ba kkie have no protection at all. If the vehicle crashes they will be flung on to the road, at huge risk to their lives.

It is intolerable that workers should be forced to travel to and from their work in such dangerous conditions. It is a clear breach of their right to safe working conditions.

The employers in this case should be prosecuted and punished severely. The traffic authorities must clamp down on this highly dangerous practice and compel employers to provide safe transport to take their workers to and from work.

COSATU is working closely with the SACP in their ongoing Red October campaign on public transport and this is precisely the sort of issue that campaign is focussing on. Safe, affordable public transport is a basic right for all, particularly for those comp elled to travel to and from work. We shall be seeking a meeting with the Minister of Transport to discuss the issue of public transport, and safety will be an important area of discussion.

For more information please phone the COSATU Limpopo Provincial Secretary, Jan Tsiane, on 015 291 2981 or 082 448 5099.