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13 Mai 2016

Greg Nicolson, Daily Maverick (So. Africa)

Analysis: Judgment day for silicosis class action application

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In courtroom 11E this morning, judges of the South Gauteng High Court will announce their decision on whether to certify the class action, Bongani Nkala and 55 Others v Harmony Gold Mining Company Ltd and 31 Others. Essentially, it will decide whether hundreds of thousands of gold miners and their families can together sue gold mining companies for damages after contracting silicosis and tuberculosis through work.

If the judges decide the class action can proceed, it will be the biggest class action ever certified in South Africa and could lead to a level of justice for miners whose health was allegedly put at risk for decades despite the industry's knowledge of how to reduce the likelihood of inhaling silica dust…

The case is both about compensation and justice.

Those trying to push for compensation through a class action…believe 32 gold mining companies are liable for failing to protect employees…

“While the mining companies will defend the legal claims made against them, protracted litigation is not in the interests of any of the parties. One part of the proposed solution would be to establish a legacy fund that will supplement the statutory compensation to which mineworkers who have contracted silicosis are entitled from the state, and which some have already received,” said a recent statement from six leaders of mining companies involved in the case…

Part of the following timelines

So. Africa: Court allows silicosis & tuberculosis class action lawsuits against gold mining companies

Gold miner silicosis litigation (re So. Africa)