Kweneng District Councillors have requested government to engage a private attorney to sue five South African gold mining companies, following reports that they are refusing to pay compensation to Batswana ex-gold miners who are diagnosed with occupational lung disease called silicosis.
The Councillor’s request has emerged in a full council meeting which ended last week.
The mining companies, which are reported to be already facing a billion dollar law suit from ex-miners in Lesotho and South Africa, are Anglo Gold, Ashanti, Gold field, Harmony and BrB Gold.
The newly elected Deputy Chairperson of the Council, Pelaelo Motaosane, raised as a motion the concern that while Lesotho and South African governments are pushing for their residents to launch lawsuits against the companies, Botswana government is doing nothing.
Motaosane said that the Kweneng District Council is preparing to send the request to sensitize government through the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs (MLHA) to sue the gold mining companies because Batswana’s ex miners who are diagnosed with occupational mining diseases do not have enough money to engage legal experts.
The Councillor said most of the former miners suffering from the disease are dying without compensation, because a board of medical doctors in S.A. are refuting the silicosis positive test results from Botswana. He said there are high chances that the doctors sideline Batswana, because this country does not have a representative in the Board.
“Why should a Board of South African doctors make other tests and decisions in a panel that we don’t have a representative in? We need to do something about this because the same people that the S.A. doctors declared to be free from silicosis are dying from the disease while others end up being enrolled in the destitute program because they are no longer fit to work,” Motaosane said.
The councillor said majority of former miners with pneumoconiosis are from Thamaga in Kweneng District. He said while majority of them had pneumoconiosis, certifiable under South Africa’s Occupational Disease Mine Workers Act, (ODMWA) only few had their compensation.
MLHA Public Relations Officer, Osesenaqa Lekgoko, refuted reports that government, through MLHA, is doing nothing to help the ex-miners. However, she did not exactly tell this paper what the Ministry is doing to ensure the miners get their fair compensation and never responded to The Telegraph’s emailed questionnaire after indicating that the Ministry can only give answers through email.
At the time of going to press, the Deputy Public Relation Officers, Doreen Motshegwa, said her ministry is not yet in a better position to give answers on reports that South African Board of Medical doctors in S.A. sidelines Batswana with silicosis disease. She also added that the Ministry cannot provide statistics on the number of Batswana who are diagnosed with silicosis.
A majority of ex miners from Botswana are reported to have unrecognized silicosis because they were not tested after employment.