The Silicosis and TB class action settlement was achieved in May 2018. The legal team for the claimants were represented by Richard Spoor Inc, Abrahams Kiewitz Inc and the Legal Resources Centre. The six gold mining companies involved as the Occupational Lung Disease Working Group were represented by the Head of Legal at Anglo-American, Mr Michael Murray.
The Department of Health in its briefing said it had experienced challenges in following up people who were ex-mine workers. The Committee also heard that the Departments were passive about finding claimants who had not claimed. The Department did not actively look for ex-miners who should be claiming but passively waited for the miners to come to it. Major challenges in the Department of Health were the regulations and this would continue until amendments were made.
The claimants’ legal team explained the terms of the settlement and how much people would receive. The settlement was currently subject to certain suspensive conditions, until the agreement was approved by the South Gauteng High Court. There was an agreement between the legal teams that the settlement focused only on silicosis and TB and it could not try to cure all the ills caused by the mining industry. The pay-out amounts under the settlement would be larger than the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (ODMWA) pay-outs in all cases.
The Gold Mining Working Group addressed the matter of legal fees saying that there would be no mingling of finances in the settlement. Payments were divided into three parts. Administration costs were capped at R850 million, legal fees fixed at R370 000 and the benefits to the claimants would be uncapped and guaranteed. There was no mingling of the three parts. The collection and compilation of a complete database of all the ex-miners was a major challenge to the settlement process.
Committee members wanted clarity on the estimated number of beneficiaries and the R5 billion estimated pay-out amount. They asked the process by which these were estimated. Some Members were concerned that the settlement did not consider the effects the illness or death of a mine worker due silicosis or TB had on the family or the worker's children. Some Members felt that the pay-out amounts were too small. They asked where the money was currently, what would happen with the investments of the settlement trust and who was in charge of the trust.
The Chairperson welcomed Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources, the Department of Health and the legal team from Richard Spoor Inc, Abrahams Kiewitz Inc and the Legal Resources Centre. The Committee had attended the Mine Health and Safety Summit and he hoped that there would be a collective responsibility in ensuring the implementation of the decisions taken at the Summit.
Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources remarks
Deputy Minister Godfrey Oliphant stated that the matter at hand was a very regrettable legacy of mining. It deals with the burden of disease of people who have worked in the mines. The Departments of Mineral Resources, Labor and Health had been working on this especially in the last three to four years. It concerned the matter of lung disease and compensation including medical attention to former mine workers. Dr Nhlanhla Mtshali would give a briefing on the Department’s understanding of the class action settlement for silicosis and tuberculosis (TB).
The Deputy Minister thanked the parties to the settlement for reaching this agreement. He recalled that in the previous year, the Committee had given the Department the specific responsibility to look into two matters. One of these was to ensure that when there was a settlement on the class action the government must be represented. He was pleased to announce that there was provision in the anticipated Trust Deed for the representation of government. The matter had been canvassed with the Department where a nomination had been made and would be announced accordingly.
The second outstanding matter was the integration of compensation laws. The matter was still pending. DMR had done the necessary preparatory work on proposals and the matter was still with the Departments of Health and of Labour.
The Deputy Minister was also pleased to announce that once DMR deals with silicosis and TB category, there are others that DMR had been dealing with. It had made a lot of progress and it had given an update in its previous meeting with the Portfolio Committee of Mineral Resources.
The system of payment for the compensation of miners was going well but it was still very slow. DMR was trying to ensure that it puts emphasis, expertise and speed to the matter.
Class Action Settlement for Silicosis and TB Briefing: Department of Health (DOH) briefing
Dr Nhlanhla Mtshali, Director: Medical Bureau for Occupational Diseases; Department of Health, stated that six companies are involved in the silicosis and TB Class Action Settlement led by the Head of Legal at Anglo-American, Mr Michael Murray. Mr Kiewitz Abrahams led the legal team for the claimants. The team involved in the matter constituted the Department of Health, gold mining companies and the Minerals Council of South Africa, and the claimant lawyers.
The basis of the claims was the Occupational Diseases in Mines Works Act (ODMWA) of 1973. It was an old Act and it was still problematic. The benefits in ODMWA are still inferior to even the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA). The other problem was that the Department of Health was not capacitated enough to deal with the more than a million ex-miners.
There were challenges in the system to follow up people who were mine workers who went back home with early silicosis which is a progressive disease. The Department has been passive and waits for people to come and present themselves.
Dr Mtshali noted that an important matter was that even though the initial focus was on silicosis, TB had also been included in the settlement. The settlement also covers cases where the claimant is deceased. It separates out funds for the benefits, funds for administration and funds for legal fees. The gold mining companies and claimant lawyers had been especially helpful in the preparation of a list of claimants, record of service for attribution of cost to each company and this needs approval by the court. There was also a database that had already been formed so there would no longer be problems with the records of service and deferrals. The Mining Industry Working Group on Occupational Lung Disease was also helping with the establishment of an electronic system to ensure greater efficiency.
Previously, people had to pay R90 to have a record of service from TEBA. Currently, the Minerals Council was paying TEBA for the record of service. DMR was waiting for court approval before the settlement trust could be formed. Briefings had been given to Ministers, the inter-ministerial committee, and at stakeholder workshops in South Africa and in neighbouring countries.
DMR had a partnership with Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) and social protection funds in the mining sector from which it was discovered that there were about 13 people who were owed millions from the provident fund and were not even aware of it. The Information Regulator had approved the sharing of information (as required by the Protection of Personal Information Act) across social protection funds, banks, DOH and the Compensation Commissioner for Occupational Diseases (CCOD) as this would benefit the claimants.
Dr Nhlanhla stated that DMR had started the biometric identification of claimants. The training of health professionals to undertake medical assessments had commenced. One the causes of the problems faced by the Department, was the regulations and this would continue to slow processes until amendments to the regulations addressed this.
Claimants legal team briefing on silicosis and TB class action settlement
Mr Charles Abrahams, Director; Abrahams Kiewitz Inc, spoke about how the settlement case had come about, the Class Action proceedings and the process for having the settlement approved. He explained the relevant documentation had been signed. However, the settlement is still subject to certain suspensive conditions, including the agreement being approved by the South Gauteng High Court.
There are ten classes of claimants who would be eligible. They would be eligible for benefits as follows:
• Silicosis Class 1: R70 000; this is an early stage of silicosis (lung function impairment of up to 10%) which is not compensable in terms of ODMWA 2.
• Silicosis Class 2: R150 000; this is the equivalent of 1st degree silicosis in ODMWA.
• Silicosis Class 3: R250 000; This is the equivalent of 2nd degree silicosis in ODMWA
• Silicosis Class 4: a special award of up to R500 000; with defined special aggravated medical condition. This category provides relief to a small number of claimants who are suffering from extraordinary disease conditions which exceed most other silicosis claimants.
• There is no equivalent ODMWA compensation category 5.
A dependants of a deceased eligible silicosis claimant who died between March 1965 and the effective date would receive R100 000, where silicosis is deemed to be the primary cause of death.
A dependant of a deceased eligible silicosis claimant who died between 1 January 2008 and terminating on the effective date, where the deceased had the condition referred to in class 2 or 3 above would receive R70 000.
He explained that the Tuberculosis claimants would be as follows:
• First degree tuberculosis: an eligible claimant must: (i) have worked underground at a Working Group (WG) mine for two years; and (ii) have been diagnosed with first degree TB within a year of working at least one shift at a WG mine: R50 000.
• Second degree tuberculosis (has same conditions as the first degree TB). Additionally, the tuberculosis diagnoses are in line with Medical Bureau for Occupational Diseases (MBOD) definitions: R100 000.
• With regards to “Historical” tuberculosis (in absence of medical report determining degree of tuberculosis) an eligible claimant must: (i) have worked at a WG mine for 2 years between 12 March 1965 and 28 February 1994; (ii) have been issued with a tuberculosis certificate (without indicating degree of tuberculosis) within a year of working at least one shift at a WG mine: R10 000. If the claimant satisfies the same condition as (i) and (ii) above but with proof of first degree tuberculosis: R50 000. If the claimant satisfies condition (i) and (ii) and has second degree tuberculosis: R100 000.
• Dependant of a deceased TB claimant where: (i) the deceased worked underground at a Working Group mine for two years; (ii) the deceased died within a year of working at least one shift at a WG mine; and (iii) TB was the primary cause of the deceased’s death: R100 000.
Mr Abrahams said that the benefits would increase annually according to CPI increase from the third year of operation of the trust fund and would be paid on the basis of beneficiaries’ service at Working Group mines. There would be no limit on the number of potential claimants. Any claimant who has a qualifying claim will receive the compensation due during the lifetime of the Trust. Individuals will be entitled to opt out if they do not wish to participate in the settlement. The mining companies last year announced the amounts that each has provided for as the estimated cost to them of the settlement based on actuarial assessments. These amounts total approximately R5bn.
Mr Abrahams emphasized the current ODMWA benefit for 1st degree silicosis is R63 100 and for 2nd degree silicosis R140 506. The settlement awards are significantly higher than these amounts. The parties have agreed that the companies will contribute R845m over the life of the Trust solely for the administration expenses of the Trust. There will be an initial R5m paid to establish the Trust Fund and preliminary systems and infrastructure. In the first year, the companies will contribute R100m of the total sum to ensure that the Trust is established quickly and efficiently. Subsequent annual contributions will be determined annually by the Fund’s financial administrator in consultation with the companies and the claimants’ attorneys. The distribution of claims and the administrative functions, including the tracking and tracing of eligible claimants and the facilitating of BMEs will be overseen by a board of trustees. There will be seven trustees in total
To obtain input from other stakeholders, the trustees will establish an advisory committee comprising representatives of government, trade unions, community leaders and NGOs and other groups determined by the trustees. This committee will meet at least twice a year. The companies and claimants’ attorneys will also be represented on the committee.
Occupational Lung Disease or Gold Working Group legal team briefing on settlement
Mr Michael Murray, Legal Counsel: Anglo-American – Gold Working Group, stated that he would like to give a different analysis of where they were and paint a broader picture from the Working Group point of view.
The Working Group decided when it was formed that it would not be enough to just settle the litigation but there was a need for a comprehensive solution. To that end, it identified three pillars
1. The first pillar was the settlement.
2. The second was the need to get the MBOD / CCOD house in order and this had been an area with challenges.
3. The third pillar was changes to legislation to ensure the long history of desperate legislation that applies on one hand to mine workers and on the other hand to other workers should be aligned.
In essence this was what the legal teams had been working o and the matter had come with an expense of well over R100 million for the six mining companies in the Working Group.
He agreed with Mr Abrahams about the settlement. It was a challenge that the settlement was with multiple parties. There are six mining companies and three sets of attorneys in South Africa with overseas lawyers supporting then. The multiple parties add a big layer of complexity.
He explained that the amounts that the claimants receive were fixed amounts. It was not a cap fund where if money ran out, people would get paid less. There were bank guarantees to support this. The medical examinations and the certifications that apply in the settlement would be of use and in some instances determine compensation of the statutory compensation and vice versa.
Mr Murray responded about the concern about the administration costs and the money that went to the lawyers and what would be left for the claimants. The legal team had been very particular about dividing the payments into three parts and there was no mingling of the three parts. Administration costs are capped at R850 million, legal fees are fixed at R370 000 and claimant benefits are uncapped and guaranteed.
It was important to note that all of this process would be interrogated by the courts. This was a transparent process. Additionally, once the court had approved the agreement, there would still be an opportunity for anyone who fell within the settlement to choose to opt out.
Mr Murray requested the Committee to appreciate the complexities of the process from a timing point of view. The legal team was working flat out on all aspects of the settlement that they could work on.
One of the most critical items the team needed to have was a database of all of mine workers and mine records and whether the workers were certified with lung diseases. This was an exercise that the team had been working on and had spent billions. Given the complexities of the processes, he did not think that money would be flowing to the claimants until the fourth quarter and requested patience on the matter.
Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources remarks
The Deputy Minister thanked the Working Group, the Department of Mineral Resources and the Minerals Council for working together and supporting the means to have at least a decent database.
He asked for the participation of the Committee members in informing people about the programme. He requested that the premiers help in the process in ensuring that the database was up-to-date and that people did not have to go to Johannesburg in buses and end up being conned. He encouraged Members to assist in their constituency offices to get the message across and get the money and benefits to the people.
The Chairperson thanked the legal team for the presentation in particular addressing the legislation.
Mr H Schmidt (DA) asked about the court application for consideration of the settlement. Is there any indication of how many possible beneficiaries there were? He had read on the internet that there was a new set of regulations for the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA) which referred to a new assessment model. He asked if this would have an effect on what was currently happening.
Mr J Lorimer (DA) stated that the legal team must have a universal number of beneficiaries covered and if it got this number wrong, he assumed that the beneficiaries would still be covered.
Mr M Matlala (ANC) said that he was largely covered by Mr Schmidt. He emphasised that it was important for the Committee to get the Working Group legal team's presentation document. The Committee was a constitutional structure and Members needed it to do constituency work.
He asked to be educated. It seemed that the focus was on mine workers and ex-mine workers. There was no talk about the families. The amounts mentioned was very small for mine workers who have families to support. He did not understand how the mine workers were expected to live better lives on just R150 000 as the lawyers were getting paid more than that themselves as individuals. This money would not be able to feed and take the workers children to school. He thought this was unfair as these children were the future of the country. He thought that there should be funds set aside for the workers' children for study purposes. He said that the legal team should go back and review the amounts as it was too small.
Mr Matlala asked where the settlement money was presently. Was it already in the Trust? Who were the trustees of the Trust? He was afraid that if the Committee did not know where the money was, a similar situation to the case which happened in his province would occur. If the legal team did not tell the Committee where the money was, five to ten years down the line someone might have access to it only to disappear with it.
Ms Y Yako (EFF) stated that her concern would be coming from a novice opinion. At the recent Mining Summit there was no representation of miners who would voice the real challenges that miners were facing on the ground. She was worried that the Committee and stakeholders present were discussing a disease that was not being properly compensated for. People had died and some were sick and big monies were being paid to lawyers to represent them. She agreed with Mr Matlala that the money was not enough to ensure that the families are accommodated compared to the money the lawyers were getting.
There was still an ongoing challenge with the health and safety of miners not being protected. There did not seem to be an effort from those in charge to ensure that miners had enough protection gear and that miners are not susceptible to the diseases so that eventually there would be no need to pay for lawyers. Health and safety should be looked into intensively. There should be an immediate action plan to ensure safety and health as opposed to lip service on the matter.
The Chairperson referred to an asbestos case which was settled on pro-bono terms. The case was done abroad by a US lawyer. It was settled by those taking up the case in agreement with those they were representing. Subsequently, they formed a trust and what happened thereafter would be a story for another day. In the silicosis and TB case, there were ex-miners who felt that they needed to be compensated. They took up the matter through the lawyers on a no fee basis. The lawyers were not going to cost the miners anything if they lost the case. However, in advance there had been the agreement that an amount would go to the lawyers if the case was won as a way of settling the bill incurred. This is why it is called a class action settlement. This was a matter that was not commissioned but is a voluntary action. The class action was taken against the gold mining industry only.
The settlement was between the gold producing industry in mining and the lawyers that took up this matter. In layman’s terms, the agreement was an out of court settlement. The lawyers and the mining industry agreed on the matter and intend to take it to court. When they take it to court, it then becomes a legal declaration which is binding. A provision is then made which states that if miners wants to identify themselves outside the agreement in place, there would be a certain period for the worker to exclude themselves from the agreement. Equally, this would not stop what was supposed to be paid.
The Chairperson stated that this was what he understood from the legal team. He also did not like the amounts but this was a debate for another day. He was interested that the agreement between the two parties had not gone to court. The Trust would be established only once the settlement agreement had been approved by the court as the settlement agreement includes the Trust. There was no money in the Trust yet. It was a commitment that would be legally binding only when the courts endorsed it and declared it legally binding on the parties. Only then would the money be released into the Trust.
He asked if there would be a government representative on the Trust board of trustees. The Committee would appreciate it if the government was represented so that matters related to accountability of finances would be accounted for because they become public finances at the end of the day. He was concerned that when the asbestos settlement went wrong, people looked to government to solve it. He emphasised that government was not involved in the agreement nor is it involved in the silicosis and TB agreement.
The Chairperson noted that ODMWA pays R63 000 on silicosis stage one, while this settlement pays R150 000. The settlement attorneys argue against the concerns that the settlement amounts were small by pointing out that the settlement pays far better than government. He asked what the relevance of ODMWA given that the settlement paid more. There was no one who would make a claim to ODMWA in this case. What were the implications of the settlement on the law. The law on silicosis and TB had been silently suspended until 2019.
The Chairperson said that he initially thought that the R5 billion included administration and legal costs. He asked what formula was used when estimating those that would be beneficiaries of the settlement. Dr Mtshali had mentioned an estimate of 13 million beneficiaries but he thought that this was too much. He noted that data collection was still underway but there was already an amount of R5 billion. This meant the figures would need to fit even if the actual number of beneficiaries went beyond the estimated number.
Given that the Trust was to last for 30 years, he asked if the settlement amounts were fixed over time. Was there a deadline for looking for beneficiaries? Where would the proceeds of investments by the Trust go? Would the investments go to the beneficiaries or would be accumulated somewhere? For example if R1 billion is used in a year what happens to the remaining amount? Would it be invested elsewhere?
The Chairperson stated that if he had misrepresented the legal team, he was subject to correction. In conclusion, he said that given that this matter spread across almost three Portfolio Committees, he thought that the points raised by Members should be considered. For example, he did not see a problem with working together to tackle possible increases in the settlement amount.
Mr Charles Abrahams, Director; Abrahams Kiewitz Inc, replied that the concern about the court application was valid. The class action representatives together with the Working Group companies who reached a settlement collectively approached the court to present with the settlement agreement and requested the court to consider it in principle. Once the court consideration was made, the agreement would then be published for comment by those with an interest in the matter. In the New Year, the fairness hearing would take place in the court, taking into account the court's views and all the comments. The court would then ultimately make a decision.
On the numbers of claimants, Mr Abrahams replied that from 1965 to date, there were no objective numbers for total possible claimants and potential claims. Objective numbers were not realistic because of the lack of complete information. The legal representatives had to collect fractured pieces of information from TEBA and secondary sources through research. Most of the information available was from secondary sources. There were no primary sources. The information available was the best endeavours under the circumstances.
The legal representatives were now seeking to tap somewhat closer to primary sources of information. What had been done based on the work of their actuaries was to estimate what was out there. Anyone who took exception to the process must show alternatives that could be used. Under the circumstances, the best endeavours and best practices had been utilised in the interest of the class action.
On the settlement amounts, Mr Abrahams stated that the litigation never started with the hope to heal all the social ills caused by mining and the ravages caused by the migrant labour system in the country. No amount of money could ever undo these ills. The litigation was a targeted litigation and it focused on the harm that had resulted from silicosis and the harm caused by TB. The litigation acknowledges everything else but it could never solve all the ills. This was a small piece in a much bigger matter.
The settlement was based on what the representatives set out, the litigation around silicosis and litigation around TB. The settlement amount was decided based on various factors. When you look at how courts would have awarded, there a certain number of factors to be considered. Settlement discount issues were also looked. He reminded the Committee that the process was already 10 years down the line but representatives had only just received the green light to proceed by way of a class action. If the Working Group had been resolute and took the matter to appeal (which it had), the matter would inevitably have been taken to the Constitutional Court and a year or two would have been added and litigation probably would have taken another 10 to 15 years. He asked how many miners would have died in the meantime. How much money would the law firms backing the process continued to give out for the next 10 to 15 years?
More than R60 million had been spent to date in the process. This meant maintaining offices, operations across Africa, signing up and engaging with miners, working with ex-miner’s information and so on. Without this work, there would not have been the results that are seen today.
He said it was very easy to say these achievements were nothing; but one would say that if they did not have all the facts. He appreciated that the Members may very well not have all the facts but he had two responses to that. One could either say this thinking that the aim of the settlement was to address all the ills caused by mining. This was not possible as the litigation focused on TB and silicosis. One could also speak on the matter of the settlement amount. Claimants can get claims from both ODMWA and the settlement. It was not an either or matter. In comparison, the settlement benefit was significantly more than the state benefit.
He thought that there was a need for one to interrogate and seriously rethink about stating that the settlement amounts were nothing in the context of a private litigation, where the private litigation brings to the party more than what the claimant is entitled to. It was under private litigation where miners would be better off. He said that at the least he thought that the litigation should get support.
Mr Abrahams explained that his presentation was not different from the media release the Members would have received. He only expanded on the document to make things more understandable for the members.
With regard to legal fees, there was a difference between pro-bono and contingency. South African law pre-1994 never allowed for contingency. Post 1994, contingency was allowed due to the fact that there are so many people who could not afford legal representation. The court allowed for lawyers to carry matters on risk. The risk was that a lawyer would carry the matter if they thought that it was possible to win. The contingency works in such a way that the attorney particularly keeps note of his time and if the matter is successful, under the Act the attorney would be entitled to double the amount of his time because he assumed the risk. If they lose, there would be no cost to the client. The Act was very clear however, that the lawyer could not exceed 25% of the overall amount.
He acknowledged that there was a lot of abuse of the Act, however the representatives of the settlement were putting all their time before the court and the court would have to confirm.
Mr Abrahams told the members that the companies had made a provision based on R5 billion for the settlement based on the best estimates that were available. The Trust would make good on each and every claim that fell within the settlement.
On the matter of governance, three people had been elected from the Working Group; there was one government representative, two representatives from the legal representatives and one independent trustee.
It was important to note that the class action was a private lawsuit between current and principally former gold miners and the Working Group companies which had managed to achieve the results seen.
Mr Murray stated that he thought Mr Abrahams had already covered most of the responses. The Committee might want to hear from the mining companies’ side as well. In addition to Mr Abrahams’ response about the settlement amounts, Mr Murray stated that the strong defences the mining companies had put one in a position where inevitably a compromise had to be reached on both sides. He thought that this was a fair and sustainable compensation which provides for mine workers and does not completely destroy the mining companies in their entirety.
In response to the question about where the money was, the money was not there at the moment. It would be guaranteed to the extent that if any of the mining companies do not make the contribution that they are required to make over time, the guarantees will be called and the companies would have to pay those amounts. The question about the proceeds of investments was not really relevant as the amounts would be paid as they became due about a year in advance. The settlement provides for inflation and the money would be increased over time. There was no easy response to the question on what assumptions were being made and the formula used to calculate the R5 billion. The estimates were derived from assumptions from actuaries who had been working for many years and other sources.
Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources remarks
Deputy Minister Oliphant said that Mr Abrahams should continue doing the great job. Pro bono meant something was done in the public interest for free and the asbestos case was not that. This was a case that went wrong for a lot of the mine workers and left them destitute. In this class action settlement case, DMR had decided that the same thing would not happen. There were discussions with the lawyers, the companies and all stakeholders involved to state that the same thing should not be repeated.
He raised that the projections for the start of pay-outs were for the first quarter of 2019, but he thought the representatives could do better.
He said that the concern raised by Ms Yako about the real challenges faced by miners on the ground was not a novice opinion. He thought that the challenges faced by miners on the ground were real and this was matter the country needed to revisit. There was a lot of progress but a lot was yet to be done. The Summit tried to address some of the issues but unfortunately during that Summit five mineworkers lost their lives. The challenges faced by miners on the ground were serious matters that needed to be addressed.
He said the Chairperson might want to consider getting the three departments with the three portfolio committees to address the matter of alignment and integration of compensation laws. The two departments involved were the Departments of Health and Labour. The matter of the different laws would be something that would keep coming up at every meeting.
The Deputy Minister stated that DMR had a database of close to 700 000 miners. There were about 11 000 people that had been paid about R284 million. There were also provincial statistics. The Department of Health was sitting with about R1.2 billion with about 106 000 people that DMR was tracking and tracing from time to time. There was also an IMC that was referred to which looked into the distressed mining towns. The aim was for people could go to one point and claim the unclaimed benefits.
He also commended Harmony. Amongst the Minerals Council members, Harmony had gone the extra mile of going into its records of ex-mine workers and they have made the most payments for people who had worked there. He thought the targets would be reached much quickly if the mining companies and trade unions with their members could do the same thing as Harmony.
Remarks by the Chairperson
The Chairperson requested that the Committee engages with the Departments of Health and Labour. Discussions had already started on the matter of the consolidation of the compensation laws.
Secondly, the point raised by Ms Yako was valid. There needed to be more speed with which the question of occupational health and safety should be addressed. So that the focus is not only on compensating what had already happened but to try and avoid what could happen. There was a need to strike this balance.
He thanked the legal teams for the presentations and the Department of Health. The Committee was in full support. There were things he still thought were unclear and needed more clarity but some of these would be clearer when the Trust had been established and the operational approach was well understood.
He thought that the Committee should have an honest discussion about whether there was really a need to go through legal processes to have these matters addressed. There needed to be frank discussion as to what should be done.
Ms Yako was glad that the Deputy Minister was speaking about the challenges that the miners faced on the ground. However, she was uncomfortable with consulting with the Department of Health and the mining industry. There were representatives that represent miners. Miners were being referred to as if they were objects. One would want to speak to a miner directly and not through a mouthpiece that was more political than anything. If ever there was going to be public participation, a comprehensive participation – where miners were consulted face to face – should be done.
In response to Ms Yako, the Deputy Minister stated that public participation had been happening. DMR had met with over 60 000. The doctors were in the field. The law states that they are entitled to free medical check-ups and the mobiles were in operation on a daily basis. It was not a matter of representation but work was happening on the ground. The question of legal representation was also happening on a daily basis.
Dr Mtshali added to the Deputy Minister’s response by stating that by law, medical practitioners had to deal with the workers on a one on one basis. She did not even respond to agencies as she dealt with workers and not representative who take money.
Mr S Jafta (AIC) noted that Dr Mtshali had pointed out that miners no longer needed to pay TEBA for a record of their service. However, there was a general cry in the constituency on that matter that people were still paying for their record of service. He asked for clarity and whose responsibility it was to ensure that people were not paying for this.
Dr Mtshali explained that if people went directly to TEBA they would be charged. The Department of Health trained staff tell the workers not to go to TEBA but make request though the DOH. The challenge was that not every worker knew about this and TEBA refuses to tell them not to pay.
Mr I Pikinini (ANC) stated that the Committee should welcome the report. It was an eye opener. Whilst there was still a lot of work to be done, he thought the process should be supported. He suggested that other matters on the agenda should be considered in the next meeting due to time constraints.
This was agreed to and the Chairperson requested that the Committee should agree to exhaust matters when it meets with the other two committees. When the Trust is established, the Committee might request the TB and silicosis settlement team to present again.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.