Coleman Legal Partners are currently advising a South African law firm, Xulu Attorneys Inc, in a multi party action aimed at achieving redress for ex-mineworkers from South Africa and other frontline states who have contracted occupational Tuberculosis and Silicosis caused by performing risk work in goldmines in South Africa.
Dave Coleman is leading a team of South African attorneys who are engaging with all relevant stakeholders, mining companies, labour representatives and other interested parties in negotiating a settlement for a body of claimants who have, to date, received either no compensation or negligible statutory payouts.
Achieving redress for eligible ex-mineworkers is a complex process since class action litigation is not well precedented in South Africa. This is compounded by the fact that such a large body of potential claimants present several severe logistical hurdles.
Dave Coleman has put all of his experience and expertise to good work by seeking to promote a cost effective and time efficient mechanism to achieve redress for eligible claimants. In his capacity as lead negotiator, he has all but ensured that a large body of claimants who suffer not only from debilitating occupational diseases, but poverty as well, are awarded fair compensation and treated with dignity and respect.
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THE Johannesburg High Court in South Africa has passed a vote of recognition to the former South African miners that include about 30 000 Zimbabweans, who used to work at the neighbouring country’s mines to access their compensation that have not been released for more than 30 years by different firms.
A South African human rights lawyer, Mr Barnabas Xulu of Xulu Attorneys who is representing the ex-Wenela miners, said it was a victory to be recognised at the High Court after so many years.
“It is a victory to the ex-Wenela miners to have the High Court recognise our efforts to represent the former South African miners who worked in mines but never got their compensation after a long period of time,” said Mr Xulu.
He said his firm will be presenting the cases to several mining companies to facilitate negotiations as to how they can process the payment for the former miners.
“We realise that we are dealing with a case that includes more than 70 000 people. We are handling cases of people from different countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland and Zimbabwe,” said Mr Xulu.
He said people who were suffering diseases like silicosis and tuberculosis will have their cases handled with urgency.
“We understand that these mining companies cannot pay all the money that we will ask to cover all the people who were affected, at once. So after the negotiations, we will have to consider those who are suffering from different sicknesses to ensure they receive treatment. These are people who are living in rural areas and are old. The idea is that they are poor and need aid as soon as possible,” said Mr Xulu. He said people who were once employed in mines especially gold and platinum were supposed to be examined at hospitals for any possible diseases that could have develop over time.
“Miners must be examined of possible sicknesses like tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumoconiosis among others for every two years. We understand diseases can develop for up to 30 years and hence these people who were retrenched from any of these mining companies 28 to 32 years now can still be at risk of suffering from any of the diseases. So we need to represent these people today so that they are able to get their benefits,” said Mr Xulu.
He encouraged former South African miners in different countries who were not yet to register to seek assistance so they can be catered for.
“We need to reach out to as many people as we can, so that everyone has his case filed at once. This will enable us to engage the mining companies.”
In Bulawayo people can register their names at ex-Wenela association offices, including details with the company registration number, contact details, the company they were employed at and also indicating the next of kin to ensure that everyone get benefits even if they have died.
The offices are at the Institute of Rural Technologies situated along Josiah Tongogara Street.