Basotho men havebeen part of millions Southern African men who did not only built the SouthAfrican Economy but also paid a huge price while digging gold underground bycontracting TB and Silicosis and thereafter were forced to come back home emptyhandedly to die.
Instead of contributing sustainably to the economy of Lesotho,they become a huge burden not only to the country but even to their familieswho have to take care of them; walk them to the health centers and provide forall their needs while they remained helplessly waiting for the death. It should be noted that our grandfathers,fathers, husbands, sons and brothers were exposed mainly to silica dust due tograve negligence which was exacerbated by amongst others greed for high profitsand of course the inherent racial discrimination which subjected them toviolent and inhumane treatment while digging gold underground for a betterSouth Africa.
It is against this background that some of the Lesotho civil society organizations joined the SADC regional civil society on the 18th of November at Nelson MandelaFoundation in Johannesburg launching the Civil Society 0n Justice For Miners(JFM) supported and hosted by the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW).
The inaugural forum, chaired by RT Rev Jo Seoka, was comprised of 27leading civil society organizations that will guide and strengthen the JFM campaign and root it in broader civil society. To seek justice for gold mineworkers in Southern Africa who contracted Silicosis and Pulmonary Tuberculosis from1965 to date, a class action lawsuit on behalf of miners against 32 gold mining companies was certified by the South African High Court in 2016. A settlement was reached on 3 May 2018, after three years of extensive negotiations between the companies and the claimants' attorneys. On 26 July 2019, the South Gauteng High Court approved the historic R5 Billion settlement agreement with only six of the companies namely: African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American SA, AngloGoldAshanti, Goldfields, Harmony Gold and Sibanye-Stillwater. The court also approved the setting up of the Tshiamiso Trust to facilitate payment by the six companies to affected miners. The Trust is envisaged to function in parallel with existing statutory compensation regimes.
On the29th January 2020 the following organizations met in Maseru:Mineworkers Development Agency (MDA), Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace(CCJP); Ex-Miners Association Lesotho and Leadership Development Trust andlaunched the Justice for Miners Lesotho Chapter to coordinate and lead thecampaign for raising awareness amongst the affected ex miners and dependents,the government of Lesotho, other civil society and the public at large aboutthe settlement and the need to encourage, educate and assist sick ex miners anddependents to efficiently and without costs apply for theircompensations. The Justice for Miners Lesotho Chapter is also a loose coalitionof stakeholder in the justice for Miners sector. Civil society organizations,churches, media, academia, organized labour, youth business traditionalleadership and others will be invited to join the forum.
- We therefore call on theGovernment of Lesotho to be part of the narrative and start robust engagementswith their South African counterparts to ensure smooth and speedy payments ofex miners’ compensations through legal and institutional reforms whereneeded. (eg transportation of lungs to SA)
- We strongly appeal to Tshiamiso Trust to speed up the process of paying theex-miners compensations before they all die
- We advise and strongly so Tshiamiso Trust to open Offices or agencies here inLesotho where people can make their claims
- Start by processing and paying all those who were registered for the class action courtcase since 2004 which was settled in 2018
- Pay all those who have MBOD Silicosis Second Degree certificates now.
- Pay all eligible widows who have certificates now.
- We also call on all Basotho especially the affected ex-miners to be on the alert and keep all their employment and medical records (where they exists) safe
- Urgently warning all Ex-miners, widows and dependents that it is illegal for people to take your money for promising to get your compensation for you. Only you can claim your compensation. Report touts who make false promises to the nearest police station and DCEO
We further advise all ex-miners to visit Occupational Health Centers for medical screening in order to ascertain whether they are suffering from the silicosisor not so that they can be ready for compensations
We call on the current mining companies to ensure that miners are safe at all times
We call on all mining houses to put in place policies that put people and their safety first and production and profits after
We invite all stakeholders to join the JFM Lesotho Chapter in order to maximize the voice of civil society
FURTHER DEMANDS TO THE TRUST:
· The Trust should maintain and support the two health centers in Mafeteng and Maseru-( Sankatana) for continuous lung function testing of ex-mineworkers
· The MBOD should pay for thePostmortem Services, (removal of lung tissues), currently the families are paying R1500.00 for the services.
· Transport of Lung Tissues toNIOH to be incurred by the Trust
· Pathologists- There are only two Pathologists in the country if not one. We request the Government to StatTraining more doctors, and the Trust/MBOD must pay for the Training.
For 120 years mining companies and the South African state have failed to make mines safe from harmful conditions that causeSilicosis and Tuberculosis. Today, five hundred thousand (500 000) gold miners in South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana and Malawi are dying of silicosis and tuberculosis.
The idea for a Justice for Miners Campaign emanated from the making of the film, ‘Dying for Gold’,a film which documents the untold story of making of South Africa, throughthe lens of miners and their families who have borne the burden of care forex-miners. This powerful documentary film exposes the hidden story of the realcost of mining in South Africa. If you may just watch a piece of that film for10 minutes.
We thank you
Statement released by:
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Ex Miners Association Lesotho and Mineworkers Development Agency
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