Tshiamiso Trust chairperson Professor May Hermanus has confirmed that the trust structure, including drafting of its policies and the recruitment of staff is nearly complete, following which claims can start to be assessed and compensation benefits paid to eligible claimants.
The trust was founded in terms of a class action settlement agreement concluded between six gold mining companies and claimants who were exposed to silica dust and contracted silicosis or tuberculosis.
The agreement provides for meaningful compensation for eligible gold mineworkers who carried out risk work at the participating gold mines at any time between March 12, 1965, and December 10, 2019.
The trust and seven trustees, including Hermanus, were registered by the Masters’ office of the High Court last month.
Hermanus explained that a cooperation agreement was being discussed with the Medical Bureau for Occupational Diseases, the Compensation Commissioner for Occupational Diseases and the National Institute of Occupational Health, which will enhance the functioning of the trust.
She noted that a crucial avenue of work was the development of a claims management information technology system. This development work was under way and would initially be implemented at specific sites in selected locations as part of a pilot to test its efficiency.
The pilot phase of this system will start at the end of June, with additional sites to be established over time.
The trust would use the databases of the participating mining companies to start identifying eligible claimants.
The trust further planned to incorporate user-friendly communication tools to enable claimants to check for themselves whether there was adequate information already available to the trust to support a potential claim, or to receive information on where to go for further medical assessments.
Hermanus emphasised that claimants need not pay anybody to lodge a claim at any stage in the process and that the only costs involved would be transport costs to travel to lodgement offices.