A better deal for lung-diseased miners?

Chris Bateman


The Constitutional Court has reserved judgment in what could be a watershed case for lung-diseased former miners, epitomised by a sick Eastern Cape man who is challenging an archaic legal framework that enabled his lay-off for just R16 000.

The amount represents slightly more than R1 000 for every year Thembekeli Mankayi worked for AngloGold Ashanti (dismissed in 1996 at the age of 37 when he became too ill to work). He is claiming R2.5 million for medical expenses and loss of earnings. His lawyer, the bane of mining companies and seasoned litigant, Richard Spoor, says that if Mankayi succeeds it will open the way for pay-outs worth billions of rands spread between tens of thousands of similarly affected miners. Mankayi was compensated in terms of a law which specifically and exclusively caters for (in limited terms) sick miners, the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (ODIMWA). Spoor is asking for a section in the more generalised workmen’s compensation legislation that prohibits workers from suing their employers to be declared unconstitutional, claiming it tramples on Mankayi’s common law rights. AngloGold Ashanti’s rebuttal is that the relevant section of the ODIMWA clearly states that mineworkers with compensatable diseases are not allowed claims under the workmen’s compensation act.

Author's affiliations

Chris Bateman, HMPG

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tuberculosis, HIV, mines

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2010;100(10):626,628.

Article History

Date submitted: 2010-09-02
Date published: 2010-09-30

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