SPECIAL REPORT: After 2 years, historic silicosis case miners await justice

SPECIAL REPORT: After 2 years, historic silicosis case miners await justice

Funds due to be paid out to ex-miners after the landmark silicosis class action suit are yet to be given to them, more than two years since the agreement. "They took our documents and pictures and said we will be paid. We have been waiting ever since." – Mzawubalekwa Diya. Picture: Pixabay.com

JOHANNESBURG – Former miners with silicosis – who spent their adult lives digging for gold in South Africa’s mines – still have not been paid more than two years after a High Court-approved settlement between miners and companies in an historic class action.

More than two years ago, the country celebrated the settlement agreement after the landmark class-action suit against nine gold mining companies, forcing them to compensate miners suffering from the insidious respiratory disease. Drawn to Johannesburg and other gold mining towns in South Africa in search of employment in the 1960s and 1970s, many of these former miners have since retreated to their homes in remote villages locally and elsewhere in southern Africa, while others have succumbed to the lung disease.

The Occupational Lung Disease Working Group represented AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony, Sibanye-Stillwater, African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti and Gold Fields against the claimants, which reached the historic settlement after almost five years of negotiations.

Now, Eyewitness News has learned that the affected miners, facing the inevitability of death, are losing hope of ever receiving justice.

The disease usually affects people in jobs where they breathe in dust that contains silica – a tiny crystal found in sand, rock or mineral ores such as quartz. It causes scarring in the lungs, a painful cough, and shortness of breath. Its symptoms show much later than when a person is first exposed to it.

Mzawubalekwa Diya hails from the Eastern Cape. He told Eyewitness News in these past two weeks that as an intended compensation receiver, he was no longer concerned about his needs. He explained that the silicosis ravaged his body and he knew the end was near. But he would find peace if, by the time he is buried, there was something to show for his suffering.

“What the Trust people have done so far is that they came to the villages and said we must go to a meeting in town. They took our documents and pictures and said we will be paid. We have been waiting ever since,” he said.

The Tshiamiso Trust is a […]

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