The Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) has approved the landmark R5bn settlement agreement in the lengthy silicosis case. Judge Leoni Windell found that ‘all the parties made an effort to ensure that the settlement agreement is reasonable, adequate and fair'.

‘The terms of the settlement agreement demonstrate that they succeeded in their efforts,’ the judgment reads.

BusinessLIVE says the judgment is one step closer to the establishment of a trust that will ensure eligible claimants can, at last, be paid out after four years of painstaking negotiations. Fin24 reports the court decision was read out briefly with the documents being provided to the parties.

Windell said the negotiations towards an agreement for miners either living with lung disease or those who were deceased as well as their dependents ‘yielded the best possible settlement terms that the parties and stakeholders could find in the circumstances.’

‘We wish to express our indebtedness to all the legal teams which represented various parties in this matter for the commendable manner in which they discharged their duties to their clients and this court,’ the judgment reads.

Parties made submissions in May asking the court to approve the settlement agreement and to issue instructions on the clauses it was not happy with. Fin24 notes the agreement affects people who contracted silicosis or pulmonary tuberculosis during or after being employed as gold miners from March 1965.

The six mining companies paying out the collective R5bn formed the Occupational Lung Disease working group – which represented African Rainbow Minerals‚ Anglo American SA‚ AngloGold Ashanti‚ Gold Fields‚ Harmony and Sibanye Stillwater.

In what the Fin24 report calls a historic judgment in May 2016, the case was certified as a class-action suit by the High Court.

In December 2018 the court declared four classes of claimants: people who contracted silicosis or were exposed to silica dust, the dependents of deceased miners who fell ill with silicosis, people suffering from TB, and the dependents of deceased miners who contracted TB.

Full Fin24 report