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Black lung disease class action against SA mining

MiningThe Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference is supporting a class action suit against cola mining companies over pneumoconiosis, also called black lung disease.

“I have four kids. Now I struggle to survive through temporary jobs. I hope that we win the case against the coal mines so that I can get enough money to pay for further education for my children.”

The Times reports that this is Ndou Tshifhwa Constance‚ a 51-year-old widow from Limpopo‚ who is being helped by Catholic bishops to bring a class action suit against South African coal mining companies. Her late husband worked on the mines for more than 10 years. He was retrenched due to his medical condition but never received any compensation‚ and he died from black lung disease‚ according to the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

Bishop Abel Gabuza said in the report: “The mines need to take both ethical and legal responsibility for the sick miners.”

Pneumoconiosis‚ also called black lung disease‚ is a preventable but incurable disease that is contracted in coal mines through inadequate protection from coal dust.

The report says Richard Spoor Attorneys are preparing the class action on behalf of the sick miners – Richard Spoor was one of the lawyers involved in the silicosis class action against gold mining companies‚ which resulted in a R5bn settlement.

The report says the sick coal miners are from Limpopo‚ Eastern Cape‚ Free State‚ Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal‚ said Gabuza. Ndwamato Ratshikakale is one of those involved as an applicant in the class action. He worked in the Tshikondeni Coal Mine in Limpopo for 22 years until he was retrenched. The bishops said he received no compensation and tries to survive on subsistence farming.

Ratshikakale was quoted as saying: “I have tried to get work for the last 20 years but my health has not allowed me to. My family tries to survive through subsistence farming. However‚ recently the doctors have told me to stop because of exposure to dust. I am not alone in having this sickness – there are hundreds of us.”

The SACBC's Justice and Peace Commission said in the report that it hoped that the legal action would ensure justice and restore dignity to the miners.

[link url=""]The Times report[/link]

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