Yesterday, May 3rd 2018, a historic settlement was reached between South African mineworkers who contracted silicosis or tuberculosis while working underground and seven gold mining companies, the first class action settlement of its kind in the country.
The Heinrich Böll Foundation would like to congratulate the Legal Resources Centre, Richard Spoor inc. and Abrahams Kiewitz inc. for their ground-breaking work on this case. We would also like recognise the important contributions made by our partner, Sonke Gender Justice who together with the Treatment Action Campaign as friends of the court has highlighted the gender specific impacts of silicosis and tuberculosis, and the need to provide compensation for family members of deceased mineworkers.
The settlement establishes a ZAR5 billion trust to pay out compensation to eligible mine workers and their families. The important task now ahead is to ensure that the thousands of mineworkers and the families of deceased mineworkers come forward to claim.
While this settlement is an important step in the right direction, much remains to be done to limit the costs of mining to South African society and its environment.