Following an escalation in the number of Covid-19 cases in the Witzenberg municipal district and the ninth positive case at its site, RFG has dramatically scaled down production at its fruit products factory in Tulbagh. The company has further confirmed the death of two employees although these have not been linked to Covid-19. At this stage the cause of death of the two employees has not been confirmed and the company understands that post-mortem examinations will be conducted.
“Sadly, we lost two employees this week. We have extended our condolences to their families and are offering them our support. Owing to the positive cases of Covid-19 at our factory and considering the high incidence of Covid-19 in the Witzenberg municipal district where we are located, we will be operating with a skeleton staff only at our factory from today,” said Bruce Henderson, CEO of RFG.
RFG is a major employer in the Tulbagh region, providing jobs to over 1 500 permanent and seasonal workers from the surrounding communities.
The company has conducted extensive community medical screening at the Tulbagh factory since 22 April. By Thursday 7 May, Covid-19 education sessions had been held with 1 071 employees while 727 employees had been screened. Following the screening, 32 workers were referred for testing at state medical facilities, with four workers testing positive, 22 negative and six results still to be confirmed. A further five positive cases were identified through community screening and testing.
Henderson said management is working closely with the Department of Health and the Department of Employment and Labour who are satisfied that the company is following all the required regulations and guidelines in managing these incidents of Covid-19.
“As an essential service RFG has continued to operate throughout the lockdown, in line with the national imperative to ensure the ongoing supply of food products. However, the safety and wellbeing of our employees is our main priority and we are taking every precaution to protect our people. We will only increase production at the factory again once we believe it is safe for our employees and we will do this on a phased basis to limit the number of workers in the factory,” he said.