Ex-mineworkers’ wait not over
Thousands of former miners descended on Mqanduli this week to find out if they would be getting any form of compensation from their former employers.
A number of mining companies called former miners to the local sports fields to check on their health and determine whether they qualified for any compensation.
Gold Fields, which was one of the companies that took part in the outreach, was promoting their Project Ku-Riha, meaning “compensation”.
The company called for people who had worked at their mines to register and update their details.
Gold Fields is working together with TEBA Ltd. Gold Fields South Deep spokeswoman Nthabiseng Ngwetsana said they were busy with a nationwide outreach.
“We were in Pongola in KwaZulu-Natal recently and now are here in Mqanduli. This is the area where most of our workers came from.
“We are tracing our former mineworkers and hoping to answer any questions they might have and compensate those who are eligible,” such as those with lung problems from having worked in the mines, Ngwetsana said. TEBA recently released the names of 4000 Eastern Cape ex-miners who were eligible to claim money from their former employers.
Thousands of ex-miners, recruited through TEBA many years ago, have struggled to access their retirement funds because of bureaucratic hurdles in the system.
TEBA claims it has struggled for years to locate most of the beneficiaries. A large number of mineworkers from South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique and Malawi have died after succumbing to illnesses from working in the mines.
Some of the ex-miners accused TEBA of complicating the system, making it difficult for them to claim monies owed to them.
But TEBA claims it is doing its best to trace those owed money by the mining companies.
Three months ago, TEBA told the Dispatch that they had already paid R300-million on different projects in rural “labour sending” communities.
Payments ranged from pension and provident fund monies to occupational lung disease benefits.
An amount of R240-million was paid to individual beneficiaries under the Medical Bureau for Occupational Diseases (MBOD) and R60-million through mineworkers’ provident funds, such as the Mines’ 1970 Preservation Fund, Anglo Group Provident Fund and MPF Sibanye.
MBOD officials from the health department and Harmony and Westonaria Goldmines were also part of the outreach.
“We are retracing these ex-mineworkers and we are also collecting data on them, especially those who were never on the TEBA system,” said Ngwetsana.
Ex-miner Mthenjwa Maqume, who was recently sent home after he fell sick while working in the mines, hoped he would be compensated.
“I am wheelchair-bound and I won’t be able to work again,” he said. — firstname.lastname@example.org