TAC & Sonke Gender Justice welcome historic settlement for mineworkers

Johannesburg, 4 May 2018 – The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and Sonke Gender Justice welcome the historic settlement announced today in the case of 7 mining companies vs the former mineworkers who contracted silicosis and/or tuberculosis (TB) in South Africa’s gold mines. We particularly welcome the fact that the settlement included people with TB, and that it also provided for the family members of deceased mineworkers.

TAC and Sonke Gender Justice congratulate the Legal Resources Centre, Richard Spoor inc. and Abrahams Kiewitz inc. for their ground-breaking work on this case. We recognise the courage and determination of the former mineworkers who were applicants and we remember those mineworkers who have passed away in the long struggle for justice. We also recognise the women and family members who shouldered the heavy burden of caring for mineworkers who returned home with silicosis.

As TAC and Sonke Gender Justice we recognise that no compensation can make up for the loss of loved ones, or the loss of one’s health or ability to work. We also note that the amounts that former mineworkers or their surviving family members will be receiving are in no way sufficient compensation. However, we also recognise that insufficient as the settlement may be, it is more than people would have received under the existing compensation framework, and as such we welcome it. 

It was a privilege for TAC and Sonke Gender Justice to act as amici curiae in this ground-breaking case. We are glad that at first the court, and now the settlement agreement, recognises that the family members of deceased mineworkers also have the right to compensation.

While this judgment will bring some important closure, the damage that the mining companies have done to our society and the way in which it treated certain human beings as sub human will remain a stain on our past.

It took 15 years of research, litigation, advocacy and now negotiation, to reach this settlement. The next stage will be to ensure that hundreds of thousands of mineworkers and the families of deceased mineworkers come forward to claim. We urge the court to hold all parties accountable to ensure that all former mineworkers are aware of their right to claim and are assisted in doing so.

For interviews please contact:

Sibongile Tshabalala | TAC Chairperson (spokesperson) | 074 471 6318

Patrick Godana | Sonke Gender Justice (spokesperson) | | 073 233 4560

Lotti Rutter | TAC media liaison | | 072 225 9675