SOUTH AFRICA: Compensate Ailing Miners, Bishop Gabuza Urges

KIMBERLY, NOVEMBER 16, 2018 (CISA)-Bishop Abel Gabuza, Bishop of Kimberly and President of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has asked mining companies in South Africa to compensate miners suffering from mining related illness.

“Most of the miners who become sick are sent home with little or no compensation after working in mines that have generated millions of rands for their shareholders,” the bishop lamented.

The bishop added that, “..for decades, coal mining companies allowed their workers to be exposed to unsafe levels of coal dust. The mines need to take both ethical and legal responsibility for the sick miners.”

Some of the diseases associated to coal mining are Black Lung Disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, work-aggravated asthma, progressive systematic sclerosis and pulmonary tuberculosis.

“The fact that South Africa has hundreds of sick miners from coal industry is an indictment on corporate greed in the mining sector and its insistence on profit over the dignity of mine workers,” Bishop Gabuza said.

The mining industry employs nearly half-a-million people in South Africa and has long been one of the most important economic sectors in the country.

But miners have long complained about poor pay and working conditions which can affect their health.

According to Crux on November13, Bishop Gabuza on the behalf of the bishops urged the government to abide by the rules laid down in the 1978 “Under the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (ODMWA)” which mandates sick miners are entitled to a lump sum payment depending on the severity of their condition.

“This is calculated by their lung function results, and a miner that a doctor would regard as sick may still not qualify for compensation if their lung function is not severe enough,” the bishop said.

He said each miner would receive different compensation in a courtroom setting, based on their age, previous earnings and disease severity, but indicated that the Church and other bodies fighting for compensation want miners to be able to claim for two types of damages, namely, “loss of earnings until retirement” and “future medical expenses.”