Sheep magazine Archive 2: issues 10-17


Lefty online magazine: issue 10, May 2016 to issue 17, November 2016

the apartheid government, the industry set up a distinct and difficult to use

compensation scheme. One study by Deloitte found that less than 1.5% of

claims had been paid out to eligible miners.

The consequences of this arrangement were predictable. A 2009 report

revealed that almost all miners interviewed in the former republic of

Transkei, the largest provider of mining labour, had symptoms of respiratory

illness. None were formally employed. About 92% said they went without

food or experienced hunger on a monthly basis.

South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution has allowed human rights lawyers

and mineworkers to begin to hold mines accountable.

In 2011, South Africa’s constitutional court issued a landmark ruling

allowing Thembekile Mankayi, who had contracted silicosis working

underground, to sue AngloGold Ashanti for full loss of wages, damages

and medical expenses, regardless of what was already available to him

under the miner-specific compensation scheme.


Human rights lawyers subsequently petitioned the courts to allow a class

action lawsuit; potentially, hundreds of thousands of miners would join

together to sue for as much as 20-40bn rand (roughly £1.2bn-£2.3bn).

Two South African non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – the

Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), an Aids activist group, and Sonke

Gender Justice, a gender equality organisation – applied to join the case

as amici curiae (impartial advisers to the court), introducing evidence on

the social costs of silicosis.


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