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First claimants paid in South African silicosis settlement

Tue 2nd March, 2021 12:48pm
JOHANNESBURG, March 2 (Reuters) - The first seven claims
have been paid to miners who contracted  the incurable lung
disease silicosis, nearly two years after a landmark class
action settlement by gold producers was given the green light,
the trust managing payments said on Tuesday. 
    The 5 billion rand ($332 million) class action settlement
was approved by the courts in July 2019 after a long legal
battle by miners to win compensation for illnesses they say they
contracted over decades because of negligence in health and
    "We certainly have started processing claims and to date we
have paid seven claims," said Tshiamiso Trust chief operating
officer Tina da Cruz. 
    The class action - whose settlement was the most far
reaching ever in South Africa - was launched in 2012 on behalf
of miners suffering from silicosis, an disease caused by
inhaling silica dust from gold-bearing rocks.
    The Tshiamiso Trust acknowledged the delays in payment and
said it had been a challenge to set up the infrastructure needed
to pay benefits to tens of thousands of people.
    "The wait since May 2018, and since the establishment of the
Trust in February 2020, has been a source of frustration for our
prospective claimants, many of whom are old, and ill," said the
Tshiamiso Trust's chairperson, professor May Hermanus.
    To date 2,402 claims have been lodged and 408 benefit
medical examinations have been carried out on claimants, the
trust said.
    The companies, which reached the settlement agreement in
2018, are Harmony Gold  HARJ.J , Gold Fields  GFIJ.J , African
Rainbow Minerals  ARIJ.J , Sibanye-Stillwater  SGLJ.J ,
AngloGold Ashanti  ANGJ.J  and Anglo American  AAL.L .
    Silicosis causes shortness of breath, a persistent cough and
chest pains, and it makes sufferers highly susceptible to
    ($1 = 15.0582 rand)

 (Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)
 ((; +27117753034; Reuters
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