14 March 2019

South Africa: Silicosis Class Action - the Names in Paragraph Seven


SECTION27 and their publication Spotlight were planning another exhibition of the Price of Gold portraits as part of the human rights festival at Constitutional Hill, Johannesburg at the end of March 2019. As I prepared the portraits for printing I requested from one of the legal firms an update on the miners that I had photographed.

I stared at the legal document. It looked almost identical to the first time I saw it four years ago, except for paragraph seven which was longer this time, expanded by a jumble of names that were all too familiar to me. I was surprised by the intensity of sadness that I felt as I read the names and looked through the portraits that I had taken back in 2015. A sense of failure overwhelmed me as I added the photographs of 10 miners to the folder on my computer labelled "passed".

In the legal documents, paragraph seven contains a list of miners who have died since the silicosis class action was brought against 32 gold mining companies in South Africa. The legal documents list the 56 applicants who represent thousands of gold miners who have contracted the devastating lung disease from working underground,...

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