Silicosis claimants paid R320m to date in class action settlement

Silicosis claimants paid R320m to date in class action settlement

PHOTO: iStock The Tshiamiso Trust, set up to disburse funds, has handled 3 600 claims, and is paying out over R3 million a day.

It’s been a decade since gold miners afflicted by the lung disease silicosis first launched a class action suit seeking compensation from 30 gold mining companies on the grounds that the mines did little to protect their safety.

Settlement was eventually reached with six mining companies in July 2019, when the Gauteng High Court approved a R5 billion class action settlement. The claims date back to March 1965, creating the added complexity of tracking down miners who have long since retired or, in the case of those who have passed on, putting systems in place to allow beneficiaries to claim.

This week the Tshiamiso Trust, which was set up more than a year ago to verify claims and disburse funds to affected miners, disclosed that it had paid out more than R320 million to 3 600 claimants. Claims are now being paid out at the rate of R3 million to R4 million a day.

Richard Spoor, the attorney who filed the class action suit, argued that tens of thousands of miners had contracted silicosis as a result of breathing silica dust during their work and had suffered irreparable lung impairment.

In May 2016, after years of technical argument, the South Gauteng High Court allowed the class action to proceed, a decision that was immediately appealed by the mining houses.

A settlement was reached with the six mining companies in May 2018, and ratified by the High Court roughly a year later.

Among the companies cited as defendants were African Rainbow Minerals, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Harmony Gold.

‘Monumental undertaking’

Says Daniel Kotton, CEO of Tshiamiso Trust: “It has been a monumental undertaking to get to this point, but the traction that we’ve gained is proof that the system, partnerships and processes that we put in place are working. That said, we are continually upgrading our systems, increasing efficiencies, and expanding our operational capabilities to build on this momentum and speed up the claims process further.

“This includes furthering our system automation and working with the mines to digitise service records dating as far back as 1965.”Over 81 766 mineworkers or families of mineworkers have lodged a claim with the trust to date, and 35 000 medical examinations have been conducted.Currently, 30 to 40 claims are being paid per day. Kotton was the […]

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