Former miners welcome new website for claimants in historic R5bn silicosis settlement
Former miners and their families say they are very happy with the latest technological developments that will help them register for claims in what has been dubbed the Silicosis Settlement.
While details of the settlement are still being sorted out and will be verified by the South Gauteng High Court, a new website and Facebook page have been opened.
This comes after lawyers representing ex miners and mining companies agreed on a R5 billion pay settlement for former miners who had contracted silicosis related illnesses whilst working in the mines.
The site will allow relatives and former miners to register their details in order for the fund that will administer the funds to contact them.
Ex miner Gonongwana Mhlaba said despite spending almost two decades working for various mining companies, he never received any retirement benefits.
The 68 year-old who suffers from TB said there was never any compensation from the mines when he left in 1998.
Mhlaba said: “I developed TB from working there as we would have to breathe in the dust, once the drilling and burning of rocks had been completed the dust was very thick and we breathed it in everyday.”
The former miner said even though he was not technologically savvy he would seek the assistance of one of his seven children in finding out more about the online registration option. Speaking from his rural home, the pensioner said he had worked in four different mines before retiring at the Buffelsfontein Gold Mine.
“My health has been permanently damaged and I came home financially destitute when I returned from working in the mines,” said Mhlaba.
Upon his retirement he had hoped to start buying and selling cattle with his pension payout but the money never arrived.
For the daughter of another former miner, Nosipho Thunzana, this will be great for her family. Thunzana said the website would help her with registering her father’s details.
“This is really good as I have been from pillar to post registering on many occasions,” she said.
Thunzana’s father Makhaya kaThunzana who worked at the Hartbeespoort mine in Klerksdorp was the family’s breadwinner. She said the money would assist in paying for her mother’s medical bills. “I used to be active in trying to recoup my father’s pensions but as my mother’s health grew frail I could no longer go to all these offices. This registration will be very great as I can focus on other things,” said Nosipho who survives by selling apples.
The website has already seen the registration of over 20 people, according to the spokesperson for Occupational Lung Disease Working Group Alan Fine.
Fine said using the online platforms would enable the people administering the fund to have a comprehensive list of beneficiaries.
Fine added that they would be advertising on different platforms for those without internet access.
“They can use our call centre number. We will use many platforms such as radio to inform miners. We will advertise in mining areas and labour sending areas even outside of South Africa,” he said.
Fine said they also welcomed the registration of relatives of dead former miners. He said those who register would help the fund to have a “comprehensive list” of claimants.