Protests force De Doorns clinics to close

2013-01-15 16:23

Johannesburg - Four clinics in De Doorns were closed on Tuesday because of the farmworker strike, Western Cape health authorities said.

"We cannot afford to put our health workers who work at these clinics at risk, and so are forced to close the clinics," health MEC Theuns Botha said in a statement.

"It is quite ironic to think that the issues at stake for farmworkers are about human dignity but at the same time the situation is depriving our patients of a basic right, as set out in the constitution."

Botha said there were many other ways for farmworkers to voice their grievances other than being violent.

The department temporary closed the Orchard, Sandhills, De Doorns and Wolseley clinics.

"It is disappointing that we have to close down our health services and deprive people that are dependent on our health services," Botha said.

Farmworkers went on strike last year to demand their daily wage be increased from R69 to R150, and that a coherent land reform programme be implemented.

The strike was suspended in December, but resumed on Wednesday last week.

The labour department was holding further public hearings on the review of farmworkers' minimum wages across the Western Cape from Monday evening.

People who needed medical assistance should make use of the Emergency Medical Services, Botha said.

The department urged striking farmworkers to allow health staff a "safe passage to clinics".


No violent incidents were reported on Tuesday in any of the areas affected by the strike, police said.

On Monday, a De Doorns resident was killed when he was struck by a rubber bullet. A police officer was injured in Villiersdorp when he was struck by stones thrown at a police station.

Police arrested 16 people for public violence in De Doorns, nine in Wolseley, 12 in Villiersdorp, and two in Ladysmith.

Workers set tyres alight at the De Doorns police station, but no damage was caused. In Wolseley, the situation was similar; protesters threw stones at police and burned tyres.

The R43 road in Worcester was closed because burning tyres were strewn across it.

At least 167 people had been arrested since Wednesday last week. On Monday alone 42 people were arrested, mainly for public violence.

Public hearings would continue on Tuesday evening in Paarl.

Hearings had been set down for De Doorns, Robertson, Oudtshoorn and Vredendal for the remainder of the week, but venues had yet to be confirmed.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant was expected to make an announcement on the new wage determination in February. This would come into effect from 1 March.

  • winstonenria.worthington - 2013-01-15 16:29

    The next protest and strike will probably be over the closed clinics that were forced to close because of the dangerous conditions.

  • paul.bruins - 2013-01-15 16:35

    All the reports that I've read about this "farmworker strike" today mention that two people were arrested in Ladysmith!? Hey News24... in case you weren't aware... Ladysmith is in KwaZulu-Natal... surely you mean Ladismith... which is in the Little Karoo?

  • david.banner.104418 - 2013-01-15 16:39

    Why can't we comment on the brutal killing of the elderly couple. Frigging sick society we live in. Genocide of the minority.

      bone.marrow.501 - 2013-01-15 16:45

      Why this,why that,why you on that why sheet.

      amanda.khumalo.1291 - 2013-01-15 17:05

      @David: there was no race mentioned on that article, I don't know where did you get genocide idea. we were all crying yesterday when a gang of a certain race was mentioned in an article.

  • angelanair3 - 2013-01-15 16:40

    So human dignity and human rights are at stake? Where will people go to if they need medical attention - how can goverment allow thugs to dictate to society? The clinics have to beg the thugs for "safe passage" to get to the clinics? I have heard it all........... Cosatu and Tony "Third Reich" should be charged for murder or manslaughter if people die through lack of medical attention! Let the thugs and looters die if they wish to, but why should innocent people suffer - for crying out loud, there are innocent people living there - I dont believe every one of these residents are thugs and savages?

      Jaap - 2013-01-16 01:18

      Angelanair3, The problem seems to be the "human" in your sentence!

  • metsebeth - 2013-01-15 16:49

    "Patients basic right"??? - thats a laugh... given what most people have to PAY through the proverbial broken nose to be in hospital. There are people dying, hopefully fighting to stay alive in these clinics and the workers safety takes priority??? I have no pity for these strikers who are helping burn down the economy whilst directly and indirectly endangering lives due to thier relentless idiocy. When it comes to distruction these morons sure know how to multitask...

  • amanda.matthews.14811 - 2013-01-15 16:55

    My dear friend has just phoned me from a farm near Upington. The strikers are foreigners from Swaziland and Malawi. She cannot load the grapes as they are threatening to burn the trucks down which are there waiting. They have caused mayhem on the farm and have set fire to her trailer. She is waiting for Agri Cape to arrive. She is being protected by her loyal farm workers who are locals and are surrounding her wherever she goes. I am sick with worry for her and pray that God will protect her and her loyal workers.

      Brian Dorning - 2013-01-15 18:01

      That is the case on the vast majority of farms, we all work together well and with loyalty and unison... there is something very sinister behind the scenes here!

  • Brian Dorning - 2013-01-15 17:58

    I bet that the strikers will be the first to complain when their loved ones don't get attended to when they are in need. Actions have consequences, don't act 'shocked' like the government did when 14000 miners lost their jobs as a result of their unlawful strike

  • bobby.jaan.92 - 2013-01-15 18:13

    SABC's Morning Life presenters urged farmworkings from all over the country this morning to "come out tomorrow in support of the WC farmworkers striking". So, they are siding with the farmworkers and propagating farmworker strikes on a national basis! I will, in future, no longer watch any SABC programme.

  • piet.snot.77964 - 2013-01-15 20:29

    I wonder when the 'city slickers' will realise that soon they will not have any nice Cape fruit to buy or even worse wine to drink due to the farmworkers strikes. Have any farmers thought of calling on the city folk to come and assist?

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