The ailing Northern Cape mining community has scored an "early Christmas gift" with the opening of the Kuruman One-Stop Health Service Centre that will provide both health and administrative services.
Deputy Mineral Resources Minister Godfrey Oliphant told News24 that the new centre boasted a clinic with dedicated facilities for miners with occupational lung disease.
"Those injured in the mines will benefit from rehabilitation facilities and assisting devices at the clinic. The law provides that they be tested every two years."
The centre will also offer assistance with the compensation claims of those who were injured or contracted diseases because of their work.
The R1.5bn project was started in 2013 to help facilitate the compensation of 106 000 unpaid beneficiaries.
The number of claimants that have been paid has grown significantly, with 8 320 claimants paid more than R260m as of November 2017, Oliphant added.
Mobile health facilities would be made available to communities in districts from where the one-stop service centre is not easily accessible.
Appreciation from community
Oliphant launched the centre on behalf of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday.
The minister praised the collaboration between mining houses and other role players in bringing the project to fruition.
Oliphant said the government's aim, in conjunction with sector entities, including the Financial Services Board was to accelerate the payments of claims.
Community leader Joe Selao said the centre was a perfect early Christmas gift for the "forgotten community of Kuruman".
"Ramaphosa and Oliphant are ex-mine worker leaders and their gesture resonates with us," Selao said.
Ramaphosa's spokesperson Tyrone Seale said that while he could regrettably not take part, the deputy president shared the pride of ex-miners, their families, the broader province and "vulnerable workers".
The clinic, which will provide radiography, HIV testing, various screening tests and other government services, is similar to others in Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana and Mozambique.