22 June 2018

South Africa: Western Cape Farm Worker Killed As Dam Wall Collapses On Him

One moment, Barend Rood was helping to repair a dam in order to catch the rain bringing relief to drought-stricken Western Cape farmers, and the next he was dead, trapped under the weight of sand that had collapsed on him on Thursday afternoon.

"He was working on a ditch [next to the dam wall] and then the sand fell on him," said Billy Claasen, councillor and founder of the Rural and Farmworkers' Development Organisation.

"He was the man that paid with his life," said Claasen.

Claasen said farmworkers do not regard the death at Uitvlugt farm, near Piketberg, as a freak accident.

They claim they had asked for a safety monitor, but had been brushed off and were told money would not be spent on somebody "who stood around and did nothing all day".

Callie Steenkamp, director of Piketberg Sunrise Farms, which owns Uitvlugt, said he was not present at the time, but the farm manager had told him that Rood had been helping to lay pipes at the time of the collapse.

"We were repairing a dam and putting some pipes into the dam. And when they had finished excavating the dam wall and putting in a pipe, a piece of the wall fell in, on to the worker."

"Then they dug him out. He was already dead. The ambulance was there, the police were there," said Steenkamp.

He said Claasen had already arranged counselling for the farmworkers, and Steenkamp was on his way to the farm on Friday morning to get further information.

He said he knew nothing about the allegation that a request for a safety supervisor had been turned down, but added that the contractor was on site.

He said he understood the farm manager was not present during the collapse.

Claasen said the Building and Allied Workers Union would hold a briefing on the farm on Friday.

Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said the incident had occurred at about 13:49.

"An inquest was registered for investigation."

Source: News24

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