More than R230 million paid to ex-mineworkers: Dr Dhlomo

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Deputy Minister of Health Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo says more than R230 million has been paid to ex-mineworkers who were injured or have contracted respiratory-related illnesses on duty. Deputy Minister Dhlomo led an outreach program at Westvaal Hospital in Orkney, in the North West province, which oversees the compensation of ex-miners.

The program seeks to track, trace, and provide compensation, pension and provident funds to eligible ex-mine workers who worked in the mines from 1965 to 2019.

The former mineworkers say filing their claims has been a mammoth task.

“I worked at Tau Lekwa mine. I left in 2016 because of TB and injury on my knee,” a former mine worker said.

“I contacted TB in 2012, but they never compensated me. That broke me because I suffered until now. I started using treatment from May 2012 to this day I’m still waiting for compensation,” a former mine worker explains.

Beneficiaries whose family members passed away are struggling to get compensation of their loved ones.

“Former mine workers who are now deceased haven’t yet being paid. That’s one of the challenges we have,” a beneficiary said.

“My husband worked at Free State mines. He got sick and at the hospital we were told he has TB and Typhus. He passed away last year December. I’m struggling as I’m unemployed. When we claim they say he did not have TB,” another beneficiary elaborates.

Meanwhile, Dr Dhlomo says millions have already been paid.

“The progress that I’m getting from this province is that our target of about 130 000 of our people, the former mine workers, at least more than 20 000 have been reached. Then over R232 million has been paid to those who are deserving, whether for illnesses or pension. We have to…through the command of President Ramaphosa have to go country wide and look for these citizens. For now, we are here in North West to look for the citizens, find them…where are you, what happened to you, examine them and give them what is due.”

He says the department is working hard to assist the surviving families.

“Even those who are deceased, where are the records, we are able to as the department release those records. To say Mr Molefe passed on, what happened, how was the injury, and therefore they can be compensated. In fact, what we are saying if there is any person who is a former mineworker, who’s got TB today, we must actually say without fear this was contacted in the mines until proven otherwise.”

Dhlomo says he will soon visit other provinces to assess the progress.