The Democratic Alliance has taken up the cause of the horse racing grooms living and working at Turffontein racecourse. In a press release issued recently, the DA National Spokesperson, Phumzile Van Damme stated that the party was committed to improving the living and working conditions of about 50 grooms employed at the racecourse.
The DA said that Phumelela Gaming and Leisure, which owns the track, was approached by the DA regarding the poor conditions, and the company promised to bring the accommodation to an acceptable standard by the end of this month.
The DA called for all conditions to be upgraded by the flagship race day at the racecourse, the Summer Cup, which is due to be held on November 29th. The DA promised to return to Turffontein ahead of the race to ensure that Phumelela has kept its word.
In addition, Van Damme said that letters had been sent by Phumelela to all trainers, asking them to ensure that terms and conditions of the jockeys' Basic Conditions of Employment Act were adhered to. Those who did not adhere to these conditions would be evicted, it promised.
Van Damme said in the DA press release: "I will not rest until all the human rights of all workers at Turffontein are respected and protected."
The DA pointed out that the South African horse racing industry recently rebranded under the slogan "Racing – it's a rush" with the objective of attracting younger and more diverse groups of South Africans to the tracks on big days such as the Summer Cup, the Durban July and other important races.
But Van Damme says that "if horse racing wants to become more appealing to young South Africans, it must walk the talk by eradicating all discrimination in the sport." A good place to start is the shocking living conditions of grooms at Turffontein."
The Sansui Summer Cup not only provides for excellent entertainment, but also allows punters to place bets on the quality horse racing on the day. The event is described as the "power, the pace and the pulse of an esteemed legacy of thoroughbred horse racing in Johannesburg."
"The sophisticated social and social event is Johannesburg's oldest and most respected first grade horse race, hosted annually at the lush Turffontein Racecourse, " reads the Summer Cup 2014 website.