Tshiamiso Trust has so far paid R1.5bn to 16,417 TB and silicosis claimants

Discussions under way to expand service to Zimbabwe and Malawi

03 April 2024 - 18:29
By Ernest Mabuza
A chest X-ray of simple silicosis.
Image: Gumersindorego/ Wikimedia Commons A chest X-ray of simple silicosis.

The Tshiamiso Trust has disbursed R1.5bn to eligible silicosis and TB claimants since it began processing claims in 2021. 

Describing this as a significant milestone, the trust said it represented payments for 16,417 eligible claims, and an additional R500m over the R1bn the trust announced it had paid in February 2023.

The trust was established to give effect to the settlement agreement reached between six mining companies and claimant attorneys in the historic silicosis and TB class action. 

The companies are African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Sibanye-Stillwater and Gold Fields. The trust is responsible for compensating all eligible current and former mineworkers across Southern Africa with permanent impairment due to silicosis or work-related TB, or their dependents where the mineworker has died. 

The trust said the highest concentration of payments was 44% in Lesotho, followed by the Eastern Cape at 28%.

“In specific numbers, 7,411 of Lesotho claims, valued at R658m, have been paid, and 4,476 claims valued at R424.4m were paid to Eastern Cape claimants” the trust said in a statement. 

The trust said it expanded its services to help claimants by setting up benefit medical examinations (BMEs) across Eswatini and Mozambique, which constituted the bulk of the remainder of the trust’s disbursements, with Botswana scheduled as the next focus area. Discussions were under way to enable expansion of services to Zimbabwe and Malawi. 

“Our data over these first three years of operating indicate that only 29% of claimants who have lodged claims have been found to have a compensable disease,” the trust’s CEO Dr Munyadziwa Kwinda said. 

He said this percentage was not indicative of the total number of mineworkers and former mineworkers with occupational lung diseases, because the trust deed not only excluded mineworkers who did not work at any of the qualifying mines in the qualifying periods, but also set out limited and strict criteria for eligibility. 

The trust said living claimants with silicosis was the only claim category that the trust could now certify with relative ease. 

It said progress remained slow for a significant number of claims for deceased mineworkers, living mineworkers seeking compensation for TB, and claims reliant on a prior Medical Bureau for Occupational Diseases certificate. 

The trust said one of the key challenges was that the trust deed required silicosis or pulmonary TB to be stated as the primary cause of death on an official death certificate or postmortem/autopsy report.

“In most cases across the Sadc region the medical cause of death is not included on official death certificates issued to families.” 

It said significant numbers of claimants became unreachable using the contact details provided at claim lodgement.

“This significantly delays progress and substantially contributes to the time it takes to process claims, with many failing to progress beyond stage 3, where the trust needs to book them for a BME, while many claims are not progressing beyond medical certification on stage 5, due to lack of documentation.”