The court case brought against South African gold-miner AngloGold Ashanti by a former employee who allegedly contracted silicosis while working underground has, yet again, been postponed.
The case, which had been postponed in June to the first week of this month, had been moved to early next year, the worker Tembekile Mankayi’s laywer, Richard Spoor, said on Monday.
The case, which was seen as a test case, had been postponed owing to the availability of a senior judge, he said.
Mankayi is claiming R2,6-million from AngloGold Ashanti, arguing that he contracted silicosis – an occupational lung disease caused by the inhalation of excessive levels of dust – during the 16 years that he had worked for the company at the Vaal Reefs mine.
Under South African law, a worker cannot sue his or her employer for injury sustained at the work place. A compensation commission assumes responsibility for claim payouts to workers or their families for injury or death incurred at the workplace.
AngloGold Ashanti is defending this action on the basis that avenues for compensation exist in terms of South African legislation, and that Mankayi was precluded in terms of this legislation from recovering damages from the company.
Meanwhile, AngloGold Ashanti shareholder Anglo American plc was also facing a multimillion rand lawsuit for silicosis compensation.
In 2004, ten Free State workers brought a case against the company, claiming that Anglo American, as the shareholder of its mining subsidiaries, knew about the dust inhalation in the mines, and that the company could have prevented occupational diseases by improved safety measures.
The disease often only develops years after miners have left the mine.