Tense wait for silicosis decision

| Pete Lewis
Makatleho Selibo is the Widow of Mahola Selibo who worked as a team leader at President Steyn mine in Welkom. He worked underground for 33 years. He passed away in 2013 and suffered from tuberculosis and silicosis. He did not receive any compensation from the mines. Photo by Thom Pierce. See http://thompierce.com/tpog/

Mineworkers with silicosis and TB will have to wait a while to find out whether they can be represented as a class in legal action for damages against the gold mines which employed them.

The hearing in the historic class action case ended on Friday, with Judge Phineas Mojapelo and colleagues Judges Basheer Vally and Leonie Wendell reserving their judgment in the South Gauteng High Court. Lawyers for the miners, former miners and the dependents of deceased miners are asking the court to certify a class action which would allow them to represent other miners and their dependents who had been affected by silicosis and TB as a result of exposure to silica dust underground. Lawyers for the gold mines are opposing the application.

In five days of hearings last week, advocates for the applicants argued that certification of the class action was the only way that miners and their dependents could have access to the courts for redress against chronic and fatal lung disease affecting mineworkers and former mineworkers across the Southern African region. Advocates for the mines insisted that alternative and preferable forms of redress did exist.

After hearing again from miners’ lawyers on the question of TB without silicosis and on the question of the transmissibility of a mineworkers’ claim to his dependents on his death, Judge Mojapelo declared the hearing at an end, thanking the advocates for their contributions. No date was set for judgment to be delivered.

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TOPICS:  Health Human Rights Labour TB

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