Last year on the 12th of October masses from different communities came in large numbers in support of AMCU, Sonke Justice, Treatment Aid Campaign (TAC) and section 27 to fight against Silicosis. The court proceedings of the 56 Silicosis cases that were filed in 2004 were only attended to in October 2015.

Miners have been dying from silicosis since 1960 and the alarming number of deaths and infections are continuing to increase in the mining sector. Silicosis victims and families who’ve lost their loved ones from silicosis, have not been remunerated fairly by the employer to be able to sustain their lives and support their families. From 1960, Silicosis employers have been retrenching Silicosis victims without compensation and then end up being a burden to their families before their demise.

South Africa is one of the best mining countries in the world but employers do not protect their workers against Silico TB and Silicosis.

“The so called safety gear they provide workers is cheap quality, they don’t care about the wellbeing of the workers but only care about production and profit,” said Anele Yawa from TAC.

Justice is being served

Justice has finally been served after a very long legal battle for thousands of former mineworkers who suffered from Silicosis and Silico-Tuberculosis. AngloGold Ashanti and Anglo American made an agreement to pay an estimated R500 million out-of-court settlement on Friday, 4 March 2016.

R464 million will be paid into the “Qhubeka Trust” to ensure that the victims are remunerated accordingly. The medical examinations will be conducted by a specialist to determine the rigorousness of the disease.

Human Rights expert Lawyer Richard Meraan from Leigh Day said the settlement is a great achievement.

“Only those who worked at Anglo American or AngloGold mines for at least two years, and were medically diagnosed with silicosis were eligible for compensation said Richard Meeran.

AMCU’s View

AMCU is pleased about the settlement and hope that this case will be a reflection to mining companies to adhere and health and safety. We will continue to fight for the rights of our members to ensure that mining companies prioritise safety and treat workers as human beings and not as production possessions.