Claims Of Ex South African Mine Employees Could Rise

  • Over 1.2 million former migrant employees demand over P4 billion in compensation.
  • 171 614 suff er from occupational diseases, with 33 045 suff ering from silicosis.
  • 108 883 diagnosed with tuberculosis linked to lung infections caused by the dust.
  • With 24 943 ex-miners identified in Botswana only 429 were helped.

TSHIAMO TABANE

Claims for occupational diseases suffered by ex-miners employed by South African mines could increase, as Botswana Labor Migrant Association (BOLAMA) intends to lobby for compensation of other occupational diseases which are not covered in the new litigation case.
In a class action lawsuit, over 1.2 million former migrant employees of South African mines from Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi approached South African courts to intervene and order 32 South African mining companies to pay out over P4 billion claims owed to ex-miners.
In the litigation, ex-miners want compensation or claims for suffering silicosis and tuberculosis which they have due to exposure to silica dust at South African gold mines. It has emerged last week that the claims could increase, following BOLAMA’s decision to fight for compensation for other ex-miners with occupational diseases from South African mines. In an interview with The Botswana Gazette this week, Ditshwanelo an organization which has been supporting BOLAMA in the fight for the claims confirmed that the association of migrant workers intends to fight for compensation for other occupational diseases.
The human rights organization has indicated that apart from tuberculosis and silicosis there are other diseases which ex-miners have contracted as a result of work in the mines. “There is asbestosis, pneumoconiosis for coal miners, diseases associated with work in manganese mines, cancers and others. The class action was specific. It had a target group. It was mainly looking at ex-miners who worked in Gold Mining Companies only. The disease common in such mines, was silicosis and TB due to over exposure to silica dust. BOLAMA intends to lobby social partners to focus on other occupational diseases which may not have been envisaged by them. It is imperative that all occupational diseases are compensated,” said Ditshwanelo human rights officer Kitso Phiri.
Recent data from the South African department of health shows that that out of 1.2 million ex-miners in Southern African countries, around 171 614 suffer from occupational diseases with 33 045 suffering from silicosis, lung cancer caused by dust they inhaled in gold mines while 108 883 were diagnosed with tuberculosis linked to lung infections caused by the dust. The figures further show that 13 688 have asbestos related diseases, while 15 998 were diagnosed with obstructive airways disease and pneumoconiosis.
Statistics from Rand Mutual, the South Africa insurance company managing compensations for diseases arising from mining activities shows that out of 1 249 533 ex-miners with occupational diseases, only 15 147 are registered as beneficiaries of insurance funds and compensations.  With 24 943 ex-miners identified in Botswana only 429 were successful in accessing their benefits from South African mining companies.

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