Photographer, Thom Pierce, spent 20 days capturing the stories of men who were gold miners and are now suffering from pulmonary silicosis and tuberculosis and the women and children who have been left behind after their migrant worker husbands and fathers died as a result of contracting silicosis and/or tuberculosis on the gold mines. His journey through the Eastern Cape and Free State province, via the neighbouring Lesotho Kingdom, culminated in an exhibition – “The Price of Gold”, which was held in Johannesburg from 12-14 October 2015.
The exhibition coincided with the South Gauteng High Court’s hearing in Johannesburg, which is currently listening to arguments on whether it should award a class action lawsuit certificate that could result in hundreds of thousands of miners being represented in one case to compel 32 gold mining companies in South Africa to compensate them for ill health induced by working underground in their mines.
Three law firms are representing 56 miners who are applying for this class action. Sonke Gender Justice and the Treatment Action Campaign have joined the case as amici curiae or “friends of the court” and are presenting evidence on the societal impact of the health hazards caused by mining gold. The case continues until 23 October 2015.