Silicosis trust set to ramp up compensation payments to victims
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The Tshiamiso Trust yesterday said it would set up infrastructure to fast track compensation of the silicosis and tuberculosis (TB) victims in mines after only seven of the historic R5 billion claimants had been paid to date.
Speaking during the virtual launch press conference, the trust’s chief operating officer, Tina da Cruz said Tshiamiso had started processing claims.
“To date we have paid seven claims and there are quite a number of claims in the pipeline.
“We have completed over 400 benefit medical examinations (BMEs),” Da Cruz said, adding that the trust was in the process of confirming the work history of the applicants.
Tshiamiso trustee Sophia Kisting-Cairncross said getting the money into the pockets of eligible mineworkers was the most important part, despite the difficult process involved.
“So when Tina says we have paid out seven mineworkers – and you may say: ‘How impossible!’ – it is just a number. But it you knew the journey we have had to walk to get to the seven and the learning curve for everyone involved and the implications, then you will understand that we are on the way now,” said Kisting-Cairncross.
In July 2019, a full Bench of the South Gauteng High Court approved the R5bn settlement for tens of thousands of current and former mineworkers who contracted silicosis or work-related TB on 82 gold mines in the decades since March 1965.
The silicosis and TB class action settlement and Trust Deed was agreed between African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American SA, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony and Sibanye-Stillwater and the attorneys representing mineworkers wanting to claim damages against them.
Tshiamiso chief executive Daniel Kotton said that from January 20, prospective claimants were able to begin booking appointments at 50 lodgement offices in mining centres and areas from which labour has historically been drawn in South Africa, Lesotho, Mozambique, eSwatini and Botswana. From February 15, those offices were opened to accepting the lodgement of documents from these claimants.
Kotton said as of February 28, Tshiamiso’s call centre had dealt with 10 151 calls. He said 5 638 claimants had appointments to lodge, while 2 40 had done so and 408 had undergone BMEs. He said the trust was looking at ramping up the lodgement centres to 150 in South Africa and neighbouring countries.
“We are having a look at where our potential claimants are, both in South Africa and neighbouring countries. We also have a fairly good understanding of the density of those populations. We believe that we need another 100 or so (centres). Our goal is to ramp up to about 150 to cover the next nine to 12 months …” said Kotton.