SABC News reports that mine workers who had sustained injuries while working in South African mines say they find it nearly impossible to claim for compensation. They say the process is difficult to navigate and that tracing their medical records is difficult. It emerged during the Ex-mine Workers Summit held in Sun City, in the North West, that some are denied compensation by the criteria used to determine the extent of disability. The National Department of Health reports that more than R1 billion has still not been claimed from the Compensation Commissioner for Occupational Diseases. These benefits are meant for former mine workers in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. According to the Compensation Commission for Occupational Diseases, over 18 000 former mine workers have lodged claims with the commission so far. The claimants are South African, Mozambican and Lesotho nationals. About R1.1 billion has been paid to claimants in the last five years.
Some of their injuries happened during blasting and subsequent rock falls. Mine worker unions say the process of assessing workers’ claims needs to change. National Union of Mineworkers, Secretary for Health and Safety, Masibulele Naki says there should be one stop health offices all over where the majority of mines are. The insurer, Rand Mutual Assurance, says it pays R 8.2 million to over 1 600 pensioners in the North West every month. The scheme says although it has made progress with payments to qualified beneficiaries, there is still a backlog. Head of Stakeholder Partnership at Rand Mutual Assurance Adam Letshele says sometimes employers do not submit accident claims on time and workers remain without receiving payments. The Deputy Minister of Health Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo says a multi-pronged approach is needed to decrease the backlog of processing claims for ex-mine workers. Meanwhile, Rand Mutual says it will approach the Southern African Miners Association to assist in identifying former mine workers who are eligible for claims.
by Zebilon Maine