Press release from South African Catholic Bishops Conference, 4 May 2018
As the sick miners won a settlement against gold mining companies yesterday, SACBC Justice and Peace Commission and Spoor Attorney have revealed that coal miners are the next on the line for compensation claims.
“The battle to secure justice for sick miners in South Africa is not over.  We are working with Richard Spoor Inc. Attorneys to demand compensation from coal mines on behalf of former mineworkers who contracted deadly lung diseases in the coal mines.” Says Bishop Gabuza, the chair person for SACBC Justice and Peace Commission.
Yesterday, Richard Spoor revealed that such legal action is being pursued on company-to-company basis.  It is being targeted at such mining companies as Sasol and Exxaro.
Bishop Gabuza has appealed to the coal mining companies “to emulate the example of gold mining companies. They should consider out of court settlement and compensation levels that are sufficient to restore dignity to former workers.”
Yesterday, seven gold mining companies signed a R5b settlement that will go towards establishing a trust to pay miners afflicted with silicosis
SACBC Justice and Peace Commission intends to set up a mechanism in remote rural areas in Free State and Eastern Cape that can ensure that thousands of sick miners access and benefit from the trust fund within its 12-year lifespan.
“We shall soon start discussions with the mines, the department of health, medical bureau for occupational diseases around such a mechanism.  As church, we have a massive footprint in remote rural areas in Free State and Eastern Cape.  Our massive presence in the remote rural areas can be a vital asset for tracking and assisting a massive number of potential claimants.”
Bishop Gabuza believes that, as a country, we have not yet found an effective and adequate way to deal with health impacts and sad legacy of apartheid-era mining.
“State compensation system – which is governed by the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act – has not been sufficient and effective enough in dealing with such a legacy.  We need to explore more and better mechanisms. Other than compensation, we also need to put emphasis on prevention.”
Bishop Gabuza has therefore appealed to the Department of Mineral Resources and the treasury to allocate more resources to the Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate of the Department of Mineral Resources.  “Given the massive number of mines in the country, the current Inspectorate is under-staffed and under-resourced. We need to strengthen the Inspectorate so that it is more effective in enforcing safety and health standards in the mining sector. In the Constitutional Democracy, we should not create another generation of sick miners similar to the one linked to apartheid-era mining.”
For more information:
Bishop Abel Gabuza.
Cell number: 0825494324
Phone number: 053 831 1861 or 053 831 1862.
Archbishop William Slattery: Cell: 0834685473