In July 2019, a full bench of the Johannesburg High Court approved the May 2018 settlement agreement. The settlement was between the Occupational Lung Disease Working Group – representing African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony and Sibanye- Stillwater – and the settlement classes’ attorneys, Richard Spoor Inc, Abrahams Kiewitz Inc and the Legal Resources Centre. On 10 December 2019 the agreement became unconditional with the delivery of the audited report of the optout process. Only three individuals chose to opt-out, confirming the near unanimous approval of the settlement agreement.
The Tshiamiso Trust, which will implement the agreement over the next 13 years, is now being established. The trustees are currently developing processes for tracing class members, receiving and processing submitted claims, arranging for applicants to undergo benefit medical examinations and paying benefits to eligible claimants.
The payment of compensation benefits on a large scale will become possible once the organisation and systems of the trust have been established. It is anticipated that the first payments will occur in the second quarter of 2020. The databases of the mines, the client’s attorneys and records of individuals who have registered an interest in claiming via a call centre and online have been amalgamated and will provide the basis for identifying the first group of claimants.
There are 10 classes of claimants. The main ones will fall in a category eligible for payments ranging from R70,000 to R250,000, depending on the seriousness of the diseases (silicosis and TB) and whether the claimant is an ex-miner or a dependant. There is also a R10,000 category for TB with no proof of the degree of TB. In a limited number of cases of very severe silicosis, the settlement trust will be able to raise the payment to a maximum of R500,000.
For more information on this historic settlement, see www.silicosissettlement.co.za.