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Seven farmworkers die of heatstroke

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Seven farmworkers from different farms in the Kakamas region died due to heatstroke when temperatures soared over 40 degrees Celsius.

File picture: Pexels

SEVEN farmworkers from different farms in the Kakamas region died due to heatstroke when temperatures soared over 40 degrees Celsius.

The Northern Cape MEC for Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform, Mase Manopole, said five workers died on Thursday while another two died on Friday.

“One farm worker is on a ventilator at the Kakamas Hospital,” added Manopole.

She pointed out that extreme hot temperatures were being experienced in the Northern Cape.

“The South African Weather Service (SAWS) has forewarned of possible heatwaves in four Provinces in the country, including the Northern Cape. This is as hot conditions are expected to continue unabated.”

She called on farm owners and managers to provide adequate water refreshments and short breaks to farmworkers during the harvesting season.

“We are aware that farmers along the irrigation belt are pressed for time to harvest their produce. However, it is important that we allow our people to take breaks in between, to refresh and hydrate.”

Manopole added that farmers were expected to provide sunscreen lotion and protective gear such as hats and lightweight, loose clothing to their workers.

“Heatstroke is a condition presenting as fever and often unconsciousness, caused by failure of the body’s temperature-regulating mechanism when exposed to excessive high temperatures. Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, headaches, muscle cramps and aches as well as dizziness.”

She extended her condolences to the families of the deceased.

“We wish them strength during this difficult time, hoping that God will strengthen them. We further wish the farmworker admitted to the Kakamas Hospital a speedy recovery.”

Manopole stated that they were assembling a team of officials from the departments of Agriculture, Health and Employment and Labour to visit the affected farms.

Gift of the Givers donated bottled water and JoJo tanks to the Kai !Garib Municipality following the death of seven farmworkers in the Kakamas area. Picture: Supplied

Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman said the Kai !Garib mayor, community leaders and residents of Kakamas urgently reached out to Gift of the Givers, asking for bottled water and JoJo tanks following the death of seven patients at Kakamas Hospital who had suffered from heatstroke and dehydration.

“The combination of rising temperatures and load shedding has resulted in compromised water delivery. Although the municipality has a water source, additional water tanks were needed to increase water availability in multiple areas.”

Gift of the Givers Northern Cape community liaison officer Emily Thomas, who travelled 800 kilometres with her team to Kakamas provide assistance, added that load shedding was resulting in damage to infrastructure and water shortages.

“We have been receiving numerous calls for assistance throughout the Northern Cape,” said Thomas.

She added that Gift of the Givers donated three additional 5,000-litre water tanks and 22 pallets of bottled water to Kai !Garib Municipality.

Thomas encouraged the public and businesses to join hands in assisting them in drilling boreholes in water-scarce areas.

Gift of the Givers donated bottled water and JoJo tanks to the Kai !Garib Municipality. Picture: Supplied
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