fight from the shaft

BATTLE LINES: Wokholo 
Mngenyane, left, Nombulelo Matu and Alpheus Blo, representatives 
of ex-miners who suffer from
silicosis and tuberculosis,
speaking to the media about the
decision to take legal action
against Anglo American. Pic: Vathiswa Ruselo. © Sowetan.
BATTLE LINES: Wokholo Mngenyane, left, Nombulelo Matu and Alpheus Blo, representatives of ex-miners who suffer from silicosis and tuberculosis, speaking to the media about the decision to take legal action against Anglo American. Pic: Vathiswa Ruselo. © Sowetan.

FORMER gold miners who contracted silicosis while working for Anglo American are taking the mining giant to court.

FORMER gold miners who contracted silicosis while working for Anglo American are taking the mining giant to court.

The 24 men, who suffer from the incurable lung disease caused by exposure to silica dust, are being represented by Legal Aid South Africa and London-based law firm Leigh Day.

The men were employed by Anglo's President Steyn Mine in Free State between 1970 and 1998. They allege that the company knew about the dangers posed by silica dust underground, yet failed to protect them.

Zolisile Blom, who worked for 16 years at President Steyn Mine, said yesterday: "I was retrenched after I was diagnosed with silicosis.

"My bosses told me I had two options: either to be retrenched or boarded off work because I was getting sick too often due to respiratory diseases. I asked to be retrenched."

The 48-year-old received R18000 as severance package. Blom said he was demanding compensation because the mine was the reason he could no longer work. Professor Tony Davis, who conducted studies on black miners and silicosis, said: "The disease is incurable and most miners show signs of it after they have left and returned home.

"Studies have shown that former miners with long service in gold mining have high rates of silicosis and TB. Cases do vary from mild to severe."

The trial date has been set for next year.

Lawyers representing the former miners say President Steyn Mine has denied that silica dust was the cause of TB and lung diseases among the former workers.

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