A charity Christmas party held at Leeuwenkuil farm in December revealed numerous occupational health violations on the farm.
Close onto 200 farm dewellers, adults and children, attended the event hosted by the Claremont Main Road Mosque community and held in the barn at the farm.
CSAAWU Western Cape Metro Organiser, Boitumelo Thumi Ramahlele, also attended the event and recorded several instances where farm management was violating health and safety standards and endangering the lives of people on the farm – workers, residents and visitors.
Outside the barn, numerous tractors were parked (see pictures). Workers confirmed that these were used for spraying pesticides. If so, it appeared to be hazardous for that purpose.
Most of them had insufficient, if any protection for the driver against the chemicals. All were supposedly equipped with a netting, which of itself is insufficient, to cover the driver’s unit. However, in several cases this netting was either torn or missing altogether.
Conditions in the driving unit itself looked hazardous with exposed mechanical areas or filthy conditions. Two tractors had old, dirty and dented plastic bottles by the drivers seat, and workers confirmed these were their water bottles to drink from. One tractor’s wheels were completely smooth, which is highly hazardous for a driver.
Very disturbing was that some of the tractor barrels showed signs of leaking chemicals. One of these was parked on the square outside the barn, leaking chemicals onto the pedestrian paving where people were walking. Some children were also barefoot and walking on the tainted bricks.
While the barn was specially and temporally made available for the function, it remains that effective precautions should be taken in such an event. Open machinery and tools should not be left open, exposed and without a barrier to prevent children from harming themselves. Nevertheless, there were also signs of leaking and exposed pesticides inside the barn.
Outside, empty pesticide barrels appeared carelessly discarded. In what appeared to be a pesticide filling station, left over chemicals still remained in a puddle. Pesticide equipment was carelessly lying around in an adjoining part of the barn (see picture).
The actual poison room, not far from the barn, appeared defective as a strong room to keep harmful chemicals and pesticides secured (see picture). At the back of the barn complex, outside, workers pointed out a shower, which they could use when they were finished spraying or working with chemicals in the field. It was outside, open and rustic, offering no privacy or water comfort (see picture).
The Commercial Stevedore Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU), will engage with the farmer about these conditions, as well as write to the wine ethical standards body, WIETA, of which Leewenkuil is a member.