Miners injured while working in South African mines find it nearly impossible to seek compensation. They say the process is difficult to navigate and tracing their medical records is difficult.
During the ex-miners’ summit in Sun City in the northwest, it emerged that some of them are being denied compensation based on the criteria used to determine the extent of their disability. The National Department of Health reports that more than R1 billion has still not been claimed by the Compensation Commissioner for Occupational Diseases. These benefits are intended for former mineworkers in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
According to the Compensation Commission for Occupational Diseases, over 18,000 former miners have so far made their claims to the commission. The plaintiffs are South African, Mozambican and Lesotho nationals. Around 1.1 billion Rand has been paid to applicants over the last five years.
Approximately R1 billion remain unclaimed miners
Some of their injuries occurred during blasting and subsequent rockfalls. David Kuter, born in 1986 at the gold mines in the Dr. Kenneth Kaunda said he broke his back in 1993 in a severe rockfall. He received a nominal payout at the time, but was recently medically taken on board following another major back operation. Kuter says that despite medical records provided to Rand Mutual Assurance, he cannot make a claim.
“Here I have the proof. I made the first demand, so they said to me they can’t help me, then I made an argument, and after the argument they got the letters too. I had it on my phone and couldn’t print the doctor’s report. The lady who did the assessment of my overall work rating told me she couldn’t compensate me for that, and I got proof of that,” says Kuter.
Mine workers’ unions say the process of assessing workers’ entitlements needs to change. Masibulele Naki, secretary of health and safety for the National Union of Mineworkers, says that where most mines are located, there should be one-stop health departments.
“Here you only find it in Carletonville and Kimberly. They’re too scattered. You will find one in the Eastern Cape where otherwise our workers suffer and they cannot get documents when they go to public hospitals. They should be conducted by people who understand who they are and what they are suffering from,” adds Nake.
The insurer, Rand Mutual Assurance, says it pays R8.2million a month to over 1,600 pensioners in the North West. The program says while it has made progress on payments to qualifying beneficiaries, there is still a backlog.
Adam Letshele, head of stakeholder partnership at Rand Mutual Assurance, says employers sometimes don’t file accident claims on time and employees don’t receive payments.
He further explains: “We have recently found that if the employer has long concluded that the person was injured, no compensation can be paid because there is no evidence that the accident actually happened.”
Deputy Health Minister Dr. Sibongiseni Dhlomo says a multi-pronged approach is needed to reduce the backlog of processing applications for ex-miners.
“We need to take several approaches, one is to find Mr. Molefe who works in this mine, he is known and can produce the records. Let’s speed up the process and get their records and move on. Now there is Mr Nchabeleng who worked at the mine and went to the hospital and was checked for silicosis but there is no record of that but we have to file a class action lawsuit. Can’t we check Mr Nchabeleng today to see if he has silicosis? However, there are records of him being at a certain mine 15 to 20 years ago and being denied a claim on the basis of an affidavit.”
Meanwhile, Rand Mutual says it will be reaching out to the Southern African Miners Association to help identify former miners who are eligible for claims.
[File video] Miners affected by silicosis who have not yet received compensation:
Miners sue for compensation after being injured on duty – SABC News
Source link Miners sue for compensation after being injured on duty – SABC News