Premier spends Human Rights Day with Overberg healthcare workers & firefighters | Western Cape Government


Premier spends Human Rights Day with Overberg healthcare workers & firefighters

21 March 2024

Media Release: Premier spends Human Rights Day with Overberg healthcare workers & firefighters

Premier Alan Winde undertook a community outreach programme in Caledon to mark Human Rights Day. Safety is a fundamental right enshrined in South Africa's Constitution and so the Premier visited the Caledon Fire Station to express his gratitude to firefighters who often risk their lives and personal safety to help others. He stated, "It is a privilege for me to spend this important public holiday with some of our public servants."

While touring the station the on-duty crew were keeping themselves busy exercising. "It is great to see you all keeping yourselves in shape," remarked Premier Winde.  

Once they concluded their exercise session, they engaged with the Premier, who told them, "The Western Cape Government (WCG)  recognises and deeply appreciates the vital importance of the work you do, in the service of our citizens. As we approach autumn and winter, we all need to remain alert, stay fit, and continuously prepare for any eventuality. We saw firsthand the ferocity of the impact of climate change last winter. We have learned how to work smarter, faster, and more strategically."

He reflected on the summer fire season, "At the height of summer, over 4 000 fires were recorded province-wide. Often fire crews had to respond to multiple incidents across the region, stretching their resources to the limit. But these dedicated women and men never allow themselves to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the challenges that they face. We are very proud of you all."

Overberg District Municipality Executive Mayor, Andries Franken, Overberg Fire Chief Reinard Geldenhuys, as well as representatives from the Overberg Fire Prevention Association, were also in attendance.

The station was opened in late 2022 and is strategically located near the N2 highway, allowing fire crews to respond more efficiently to callouts. The facility was built through a public-private partnership with the company, AFGRI Equipment.

"It is fantastic to see partnerships like this in action. I am proud of what we have been able to achieve over the years in our disaster response network, enhanced by partnerships," he said.

The Premier then proceeded to the nearby Caledon Hospital. During a tour, Dr Trevor Pillay, Medical Manager for the Theewaterskloof region, explained that they are facing a range of challenges such as space constraints and patient waiting times. But he added through teamwork, the facility runs smoothly.

Premier Winde used the opportunity to pay a visit to the Maternity Ward, which is being refurbished, and Paediatric Unit.

The hospital houses an Emergency Communication Centre and Disaster Management facility that was constructed by the WCG and launched in 2020. "We are investing heavily in ensuring the Western Cape’s health and disaster response capabilities are world-class and can meet the needs of our fast-growing province," stated the Premier.

Over the 2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework the provincial government will spend more than R182 billion on - among other priority areas - healthcare and wellness.

Premier Winde concluded, "Despite unprecedented in-year budget cuts we have been forced to make, we will still prioritise the rights of our residents to dignified, professional health and safety services and we will continue to support our healthcare and disaster management officials in any way we can."