Silicosis settlement a muted success
In his article, “Suffering litigants rejoice over mining houses’ R5-billion silicosis settlement” , Lucas Ledwaba is correct to note that the settlement of the class action litigation has come too late for many.
As many as half of the mineworkers have died without receiving compensation for their suffering. This is because the mining companies have spent 14 years fighting various legal battles. Their behaviour has been nothing short of disgraceful.
In addition, it is too early to claim that this is a fair and effective settlement. If the settlement is not widely publicised then it will be of little value. Similarly, even if ex-gold mineworkers with silicosis and tuberculosis across Southern Africa do learn of the settlement, their ability to get medical screening and compensation will be crucial as to whether or not the settlement may be considered a success.
It is also vital that the settlement and the statutory compensation scheme work together in a complementary and mutually supportive manner.
Finally, the mining companies need to ensure that mining unions in South Africa and across the region are involved in the implementation of the settlement, and that there are regular and publicly available progress reports. — Sunit Bagree, senior campaigns officer, Action for Southern Africa (the successor to the Anti-Apartheid Movement), London