The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) released a statement on Tuesday 24 March, stating that the defiance of a lockdown is unacceptable. It said it had been made aware of greedy employers, forcing employees to work, despite a national lockdown announced by the president on Monday. 

“These employers are incorrectly characterising themselves as essential services, such as telecommunications companies that conduct work for companies abroad,” said the statement.  

As of Wednesday 25 March, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa reached a staggering 709 — the biggest overnight spike thus far. 

‘Greedy employers’ force employees to work despite lockdown 

The EFF said the workforce of some of these companies is way above any acceptable standards. 

“We are aware of a call centre called Capita SA, a call centre based in Cape Town, whose number of employees exceeds 400 people and has already instructed its employees to come to work in defiance of the lockdown,” said the statement. 

“We are also aware of non-essential companies in Wynberg, Santon who have already informed their workers to continue coming to work despite the lockdown,” it added. 

The EFF has called for the monitoring of large and small firms that attempt to continue operations and “put workers at risk while they do not fall in the category of essential services.” 

EFF calls on SAPS and military to take action 

According to the red berets, military personnel and the South African Police Service (SAPS) must act swiftly and harshly on “greedy capitalists” who put the lives of people at risk and undermine the efforts of the state to curb the spread of coronavirus. 

“We urge all workers to identify and expose the greed of their bosses to SAPS and these individuals must be detained immediately,” it said.  

“All people in South Africa including huge corporations should appreciate that the only way to contain the coronavirus is to completely and strictly avoid all forms of human contact until the virus infection curve is flattened and the disease defeated,” it added. 

Confiscation of hand sanitisers 

On Friday 20 March, the EFF called on businesses, in particular grocery stores, not to inflate prices of products, such as hand sanitisers, masks and gloves, that are needed to halt the spread of coronavirus. 

If not adhered to, the EFF said its members would personally go to those stores and confiscate the products, as it is not accessible to the less fortunate. 

“Our people cannot be left to die because they cannot afford items that help them practise basic hygiene. No one should profit from this disaster,” the statement said. 

The EFF said that anyone with information about a supermarket, retail store or company that has inflated its prices, should alert them. 

“We further call on businesses, in particular grocery stores, like SPAR, Pick n Pay, BOXER, Cambridge, Shoprite, Checkers, Woolworths and other retailers not to inflate prices of products, such as sanitisers, masks, gloves and other protective equipment that might be needed to control the coronavirus,” it said. 

“We call upon anyone who has any information about anyone or supermarket, retail store or company that has inflated its prices to alert the EFF of such cruel business practice.”

“As the EFF, through our branches, we will send our members to confiscate all the sanitisers, hand gloves, masks and any other overpriced items that our people so desperately need,” it added. 

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