South Africa: First Payments to Claimants in Historic Silicosis Settlement Set for Second Quarter of 2020


The first payments to claimants from the historic silicosis settlement with South African gold producers will mark the start of a very long process.

Miners who contracted the fatal lung disease silicosis, while toiling in South Africa's gold mines, are soon to start receiving compensation. The Minerals Council South Africa announced at the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town that the first payments should be made in the second quarter of 2020. Beyond that, the process is expected to take years to complete.

The settlement in the class-action suit brought against the gold industry by human rights lawyer Richard Spoor was reached almost two years ago to the tune of R5-billion. The class action was initially launched in 2012 on behalf of miners who contracted the incurable disease from inhaling silica dust from gold-bearing rocks.

This, of course, is the legacy of decades of grotesque exploitation of the black migrant labour force drawn from the Eastern Cape, Lesotho, Mozambique and other "labour sending areas". This brutalised workforce was subjected to dangerous and unhealthy work with few safeguards against diseases such as silicosis, which may have killed more miners than rockfalls and other underground accidents.

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