SOUTH African mines have reached a conditional settlement to pay compensation of up to R500 000 each to thousands of Zimbabweans who used to work in the neighbouring country’s mines in the 1970’s, subject to approval by the High Court.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
According to a notice of proposed class settlement; six companies, African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American SA, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony, Sibanye-Stillwater and some of the affiliate mining entities have reached a conditional settlement to pay compensation to eligible former Wenela mine workers and dependents of those who have passed away.
Wenela is an acronym for Witwatersrand Native Labour Association, comprising former South African mine workers drawn from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana and Mozambique.
The proposed settlement is subject to certain conditions and must be approved by the High Court when it sits from May 29 to 31, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The pay-outs would be processed via a trust called Tshiamiso Trust that shall be established and would exist for a minimum of 13 years.
“The proposed settlement will settle the claims against the participating gold mining companies arising from the class action that was initiated before the High Court for (a) the harm and loss suffered by mine workers who contracted silicosis and/or tuberculosis (TB) during their work on certain gold mines in South Africa, and (b) the harm and loss suffered by the dependents of mine workers who died of the disease,” the notice read.
“Eligible claimants will be entitled to receive a once-off payment of between R10 000 and R250 000, depending on the nature and seriousness of the disease. In certain exceptional circumstances, this amount may be increased to up to R500 000.”
The ex-Wenela mine workers and their dependents must submit a claim form to the Tshiamiso Trust with personal information, employment history, or employment history of the deceased and respective medical records to be eligible for compensation.
“An eligible claimant is a person who is a member of any of the classes (mine workers) and who meets the requirements of the Tshiamiso Trust to receive monetary compensation. The participating gold mining companies are also required to pay the class lawyers a set amount for legal costs and to pay for administration of the Tshiamiso Trust,” the notice adds.
Thousands of Zimbabweans migrated to South Africa in the 1970s to work in the mines, but their pensions are yet to be released by the mining companies.
Many stopped working without knowing that they had accrued benefits that the mines were supposed to pay them, with a significant number believed to have been infected with and succumbed to lung infections as a result of working in the mines.