The National Emergent Redmeat Producers Organisation (NERPO) has reacted with shock and disbelief following the report that there are some farm owners who continue to expose their farmworkers to the danger of Covid-19, by “simply failing to adhere to the basic hygiene and transport arrangements” as set out by the government.
The organization said that it can’t afford a situation where people are simply obsessed about making profit, even at the risk of losing the same workers who will ultimately die if they are exposed to Covid 19.
“This is worrisome as it happens even when President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the nation to be compassionate during this difficult time, unprecedented in the history of humankind,” said Group Managing Director of NERPO, Aggrey Mahanjana.
Mahanjana added: “If indeed, the reports are true and we hope it is not, we call for the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Police to act swiftly by arresting those culprits who want to bring the name of the farming community into disrepute.”
He said people can’t be law unto themselves.
“We cannot allow our people to be transported like sardines, expose to health hazard, just because someone out there wants to maximise profit, by any means necessary. It cannot be tolerated at all cost.
“The perpetrators or offenders, unfortunately, know the prescripts on health and occupational safety and they simply ignore them. That is why we call for consequence management to ensure that we deal with this despicable behaviour, once and for all,” said Mahanjana.
NERPO further called on the organised agriculture from all fronts to remain vigilant against such individuals who want to tarnish the image of the farming community and report them to law enforcement agents as a matter of urgency.
Meanwhile, the organisation said it once again applauds the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform for the announcement of R1.2 billion targeted at the smallholder farmers.
However, Mahanjana stressed that a voucher system should be supported by all farmers so as to ensure that there is an even distribution of the resources to all the intended beneficiaries.