Case courtesy of Dr Prat Matifoll,

The Tshiamiso Trust, which is being established to ensure meaningful compensation for eligible gold mine workers in South Africa that contracted silicosis or tuberculosis, is gaining momentum.

The lodging, assessment, certification and payment of compensation benefits on a large scale will become possible and compensation benefits can be paid to eligible claimants only once the organisation and systems of the Trust have been established. It is the Trust’s intention to reach the point as soon as possible.

READ MORE: Silicosis class action settlement becomes effective

The Tshiamiso Trust was founded in terms of the class action settlement agreement concluded between six mining companies, some of their affiliates, the claimants’ representatives and the claimants’ attorney. The Trust will ensure the compensation of eligible gold mine workers who carried out risk work at the participating gold mines at any time between 12 March 1965 and 10 December 2019 and were exposed to silica dust and have contracted silicosis or tuberculosis, or dependants of such gold mine workers who have since passed away.

Trustees appointed

The Trust and the seven nominated trustees were all registered by the Masters’ office of the High Court by 6 February 2020, and include:

  • Professor May Hermanus – Chairperson
  • Dr Sophia Kisting-Cairncross
  • Dr Barry Kistnasamy
  • Janet Love
  • Kgomotso Molebatsi
  • Michael Murray
  • Abre van Vuuren

Work in progress

The structures of the Trust, and the drafting of the policies, procedures and processes, including the recruitment process of staff and service providers are close to finalisation. The necessary advertisements and appointments will follow.

The Trust Deed emphasises the importance of cooperating with the Medical Bureau for Occupational Diseases (MBOD), and the Compensation Commissioner for Occupational Diseases (CCOD), which administer the state compensation system, and the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH).

In this regard, cooperation agreements are under discussion which will enhance the functioning of the Trust.

A crucial avenue of work is the development of a claims management information technology (IT) system. This work is under way and will initially be implemented at specific sites in selected locations as part of a pilot to test its efficiency and to ensure that it serves the needs of claimants and the Trust.

The pilot phase of the system is planned for the end of June 2020. Additional sites will be established over time.

In accordance with the settlement agreement the databases of the participating mining companies, the claimants’ attorneys and other relevant sources have been combined and given to the Trust. This will assist the Trust in identifying eligible claimants.

At as early a stage as possible, the Trust hopes to be able to use this combined database to identify and process the first claimants through the Trust’s compensation claims management system. Other claimants should please be assured that work on their claims will proceed as quickly as possible.

The Trust plans to use user-friendly communication tools to enable claimants to check for themselves whether there is adequate information already available to the Trust to support a potential claim, and to receive information on where to formally lodge the claim and go for medical assessments, if required.

Additional application lodging and medical assessment sites will be publicised as they are organised.

Who qualifies?

The trustees wish to emphasise that, according to the settlement agreement, the payment of benefits is limited to eligible members of the classes and that the value of the awards depends on the severity of the disease and other further terms of the settlement agreement. The settlement agreement and the Trust Deed is available here.