Justice for Miners says R9m in silicosis compensation represents insufficient progress

A SOUTH African organisation representing gold miners with silicosis said compensation should be expedited to successful applicants.

This is after it emerged last month that only R9m had been paid by the Tshiamiso Trust, a fund established by mining firms such as Harmony Gold and AngloGold Ashanti following a class action suit which won R5bn in compensation.

BusinessLive cited chairman of the Justice for Miners Organisation, Bishop Jo Seoka as saying that the R9m paid to the “first major batch” of 102 claimants represented insufficient progress. Some 500,000 miners are potentially in line to receive compensation.

“As much as we see this as a step in the right direction, it is but a drop in the ocean,” Seoka said. “We say this knowing that half a loaf is better than nothing.”

“To report a settlement of R9,074,523 in the two years since the Trust deed became effective on July 26 2019 is hammering a nail on the coffin of the majority of still uncompensated claimants and their families,” Seoka said.

BusinessLive said there were “serious problems” at the trust’s offices – an issue acknowledged by its spokesman, Monako Dibetle. A “small number of claimants” raised complaints about treatment at the offices. He said this was “perhaps not surprising” as there were about 64 offices across five Southern African countries.

“In each and every case, we have reported it to the senior management of the service provider, and they have taken action,” said Dibetle.

Seoka insisted medical processes, including x-rays and autopsies, must improve. He flagged that certain documents were only available in English and called for improved communication with claimants.