Long wait for sick workers

GOVERNMENT has failed to compensate former nuclear workers who allegedly became ill 12 years ago due to radiation and chemicals at the Phelindaba plant, near Pretoria.

The workers wrote to President Jacob Zuma to intervene but he has referred them back to Energy Minister Dipuo Peters, pictured, whom it has been difficult to secure a meeting.

More than 60 of the 208 aging Atteridgeville workers died poor after suffering from terminal illnesses cancer, blood and skin diseases. Some were living with respiratory problems or eye problems.

The group's representative, Alfred Sepepe, who has had a cancerous testicle removed, yesterday said the remaining workers were losing hope.

In a letter late last year Peters said Sepepe should take up his issues with the Nuclear Energy Corporation of SA, which then allegedly refused to investigate the matter or pay.

A complaint was eventually laid with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela late last year, with the help of environmental group Earthlife and medical expert Dr Murray Coombs. - nhlabathih@sowetan.co.za