Final Committee Report on Ex-Mineworkers: consideration

Matters Relating to Ex-Mineworkers

18 March 2008
Chairperson: Mr M Sonto (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee discussed its draft final report on the submissions received from relevant stakeholders as well as the facts that had come to light during discussions with these stakeholders.

The Committee found that the Ex-Mine Workers Union had a valid case against certain institutions and government departments. The Committee noted that each department passed responsibility on to the next. TEBA had been approached as a recruitment agency for miners only to discover that it was not. Fidentia could assist in tracing ex-mineworkers, as there was a possibility that they had records. The Committee had found that it was difficult to trace beneficiaries as their former employers identified them with numbers. The Committee noted that some beneficiaries were difficult to trace, as some deceased mine workers did not want their spouses to know about the fund thus they had not included their names in the relevant documents. There were constraints as there was not full disclosure by some stakeholders.

The Committee recommended that the available money should be taken and invested in the communities from where ex-miners had come. A joint departmental ad hoc committee should be set up to process the findings and make recommendations. It was evident that if the relevant information was put together, beneficiaries could be traced and compensated.

Meeting report


The Committee read through the draft final report.

The draft final report noted that various departments had interacted with the Ex-Mine workers Union prior to the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee. Issues raised by the union included:
- the establishment of a trust fund for administration of R54 million held by the Compensation Commissioner for Occupational Diseases;
- extension of ABET programs for the empowerment of ex-mineworkers;
- skills development;
- distribution of monies held by the Mining Provident Fund, as well as death and disability benefits.

The following institutions had appeared before the Ad Hoc Committee:
Office of the Speaker
Ex Mine Workers Union
Eastern Cape Department of Health
Eastern Cape Premier’s Office
Department of Labour
Chamber of Mines
National Union of Mine Workers
Mine Workers’ Provident Fund (1989)
Mine Workers’ Provident Fund (1970)
Fidentia Curators

The Committee had been informed that the Office of the Speaker became involved in the matter in February 2005 in reaction to a letter, which threatened a protest by the Ex-Mineworkers Union on the day of the President’s State of the Nation address. The Ex-miners Union was concerned that their occupational diseases had not been compensated. There were questions around who could claim from the fund and the eligibility of family members and dependants.

The ex-mine workers had alleged that the Eastern Cape Provincial government promised to give R840 worth of food vouchers on a continual monthly basis, but that was stopped once the ex-miners went home. Due to these broken promises the ex-mine workers wanted to disrupt Parliament to raise awareness of their plight.

The Eastern Cape Premier’s Office stated that money was available but eligible beneficiaries could not be traced. The Department of Health was responsible for tracing them. In their efforts to trace beneficiaries, the department had compiled a list of 18 500 possible beneficiaries and 11 200 of them were paid R2 700 each.

The Department of Labour had assured the Committee that the money was available but would be paid within the confines of law. Moreover, the beneficiaries had to present the requisite documents, which proved that they had sustained diseases or injuries on duty.

The Chamber of Mines stated that beneficiaries had to be fifty-five years or older and were supposed to have been working for more than ten years to be able to claim. The eligible beneficiaries also included retrenched employees over the age of fifty who had served in the mines for at least ten years. Dependants could receive benefits that would have been paid to the deceased. The Chamber had also informed the Committee that a program had been established  to ensure that miners who had contracted occupational diseases were compensated.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) had informed the Committee that it was not responsible for compensation and they were not involved in any payments and had no knowledge of the R54 million. The role of the NUM was to raise matters concerning work conditions and making recommendations to employers and/or legislators.

The Mineworkers Provident Fund had stated that it regulated payments to beneficiaries of the Fund. The Fund also provided surety for miners applying for housing loans. They also process claims for death on duty if one had been working for more than a year. The Committee was informed that the previous Fund had been closed upon the formation of a new one, thus those who had invested with the old Fund were still owed. The Fund was involved in tracing and paying eligible ex-miners. The 1970s investments in the Fund stood at R200 million and 59 702 beneficiaries had been paid. There was the problem of conflicting personal details in the Department of Home Affairs documents and those in the Fund’s database.

TEBA was formerly a miners recruiting agency but currently provided support services to rural families in mining communities. Its role was limited to the tracing of ex-mine workers as requested by the Chamber of Mines.

The Eastern Cape Department of Health conducted medical examinations and testing procedures on ex-miners. The Committee was informed that the Occupational Health and Safety Coordinators visited institutions where ex-mine workers were present and conducted medical examinations. The results of medical examinations were sent to the Medical Bureau of Diseases, which prepared a report and processed the documents accordingly.

The curators of Fidentia said that Fidentia had operated as a pyramid scheme that had wasted the miners’ money. The funds were being legally pursued by the curators. R93 million had been recovered, with R90 million paid to widows and orphans of deceased ex-mine workers in the past.

The meeting was adjourned. 


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