Ensure drivers comply with law

Farmers must ensure their drivers have valid drivers’ licences before they employ them or the law will take its course.

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This was the warning issued by the MEC for Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Administration in Mpumalanga, Candith Mashego-Dlamini. She was reacting to the accident involving a truck and a coal train that took place near Hectorspruit on Friday, 13 July. By the time of going to print, it had claimed the lives of 26 farm workers.

The truck was carrying 45 farm workers to harvest oranges at Thulloh Farm when the accident took place. About 19 people died on the scene, while others were hospitalised. The truck driver was arrested and charged with 25 accounts of culpable homicide. It’s been claimed he could not hear the train approaching, as he had earphones in his ears and was listening to music. The possibility he was driving without a licence is also being investigated.

Speaking to Farmer’s Weekly, Mashego-Dlamini said farmers must also ensure that vehicles transporting farm workers are roadworthy. “Safety must come first and farm owners need to practise that,” she said. Lobby group AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel said drivers must always be attentive when driving. They must realise that “to be on the roads is a risk, especially when transporting passengers,” he said.

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“You have your own life and that of others to take into consideration.” Kriel said government should launch an investigation into the transportation of workers in all industries and see where and how it can ensure their safety while still keeping the process relatively inexpensive. Lynton Balcomb of Thulloh Farm was allegedly using a service provider to transport the workers and said he could not comment on the matter as the truck does not belong to him. “It was just a human error,” he said