In May 2016, the South Gauteng High Court handed down a judgment in favour of 69 mineworkers, who represent tens of thousands of former gold mineworkers and their dependents, in the certification proceeding for a class action. The mineworkers, represented by Richard Spoor Attorneys (Spoor), Abrahams Kiewitz Inc (Abrahams), and the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), sought certification of a class action aimed at seeking accountability from 32 gold mining houses for their failure to prevent and treat silicosis.
Sonke together with the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), represented by SECTION 27 intervened as amici curiae (friends of the court), and submitted evidence on the gendered impact of the mining-related lung diseases, including the unpaid care-giving provided by women and children in mine-sending communities and the ripple effects of having to dedicate time, money, and personal well-being to provide this care.
In June 2016, the gold mining companies applied for leave to appeal against the judgment and partially succeeded with their application. Their application was successful only insofar as it related to one aspect of the case, prompting the mines to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) directly.
In September 2016, the SCA granted the mining companies leave to appeal on all aspects of the certification granted by the South Gauteng High Court, resulting in further delay for the thousands of people affected. People like, Mrs Nomziwonke Jamela, the wife of a former mineworker who worked in the gold mines for decades. During the press conference, she made a direct plea to the mining sector to take responsibility for their actions:
During Tuesday’s press conference, Sonke’s Co-Executive Director, Dean Peacock, called out the mining industry for their silence on the issue. “It’s a egregious violation of people’s rights,” he said.
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