Law firm begins process for silicosis victims’ compensation

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A private law firm representing victims and their families in the silicosis and tuberculosis class action case has begun the process to prepare applications for compensation for mine workers. 24 000 applications from affected parties have been received so far.

This follows the Gauteng High Court’s landmark judgment in May 2019 ordering that those affected be compensated to the tune of R5 billion.

The agreement involves six mining companies, which include, Anglo Gold Ashanti, Gold Fields and the Legal Resource Centre. Among others, it stipulates, the establishment of a Trust to manage payments to legitimate claimants.

The R5 billion compensation will be contributed by all six companies.

The mine workers’ legal teams have established the Trust that will run for 12 years. The claimants will include former mine workers who reside within SADC countries.

Richard Spoor, Attorney from Richard Spoor Attorneys, says that there is a lot of work to be done.

“There is a lot of work to be done. We cannot call them to Johannesburg; we have to take extra machines, mobile trucks with extra machines, nurses and facilities to look at what works. They will come to your place, town and villages. We are working with regional government, regional department of health and whole lot of stakeholders.”

The Matlosana Local Municipality is one of the major mining areas in the North West. The area attracted local and foreign nationals looking for work opportunities. 52-year old Nokhwakha Sozombile is unemployed and lives with her three children. Her husband was diagnosed with silicosis and died in 2004 while working at Vaal Reefs.

Sozombile says she is unemployed and survives on odd jobs.

“I am not working, I survive by temporary jobs at the tuck-shops, doing laundry for three days so that my children can eat because sometimes we sleep without food. If I get this money, it will assist me to improve our lives at home. Even my children can further their studies as well so that they can assist me as well.”

Since the judgment, most victims are already registering to be compensated.

Alan Fine of Occupational Lung Disease Working Group says individual compensation will depend on the degree of illness.

“There are ten separate classes of categories of payments and that is how it has been worked out. For example, first degree of silicosis will be entitled to R150 000, some with second degree will get R250 000. In a few cases where disease is particularly harsh, the trustees will decide on payments.”

Various platforms; such as social media and advertising on both print and electronic media, will be used to make deserving beneficiaries, aware of the compensation claims.