The Qhubeka Trust says it has awarded approximately R134 million in compensation to qualifying ex-mineworkers, who were employed at Anglo American South Africa and AngloGold Ashanti mines, and are suffering from silicosis.
The Trust was founded on the back of the successful conclusion of a lengthy compensation battle by attorneys, Richard Meeran and Zanele Mbuyisa, representing ex-mineworkers who contracted silicosis as a result of working for various mines owned by Anglo American South Africa and AngloGold Ashanti.
It has no connection to the recently settled class-action suit against various gold mining companies on behalf of gold miners who have developed silica related diseases.
Chairperson Dr Sophia Kisting-Cairncross said the Trust was established with the specific purpose of distributing the R395 million settlement won by the attorneys representing these ex-mineworkers.
Kisting-Cairncross said the claimants in the settlement are 4 365 ex-mineworkers from South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho who may be suffering from silica-related occupational lung diseases as a result of the failure by the mines to prevent workers’ exposure to silica dust,
She said that the R134 million awarded to qualifying claimants as at August 1, 2018 was a huge achievement given the challenges that the Trustees encountered.
“We believe that this has not only had a positive impact on our claims process but has also contributed enormously to the level of care provided to ex-miners in these areas. We hope that it will be a lasting legacy that will also be beneficial to the bigger class action settlement trust and for public health as a whole,” Kisting-Cairncross said.
Kisting-Cairncross said to date, approximately 3 160 of the 4 365 claimants had been referred for medical assessments, and just more than half of those assessed have been determined to be suffering from silicosis. Approximately half of the outstanding claims are of deceased claimants, the majority of whom died before the establishment of the Trust.
She said that this lack of medical records was one of the most significant challenges faced, but the Trustees were also working with several specialists on pioneering work to develop an instrument to confirm the presence of silicosis in the absence of medical records.
“We cannot fail our widows and the families of the mineworkers who have suffered tremendously by their loss,” she said.
– African News Agency (ANA)