Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - "We often boast, as a nation, of having cheap electricity, which is based on coal, but its human costs remain invisible", says the Justice and Peace Commission of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC), in presenting an exhibition on the conditions of coal miners in South Africa. "Justice and Peace" organized the exhibition in support of the miners who denounced the mining company Sasol Coal for having contracted serious lung diseases and other pathologies due to years of inhalation of coal dust, in the mines of society.
The "Justice and Peace" initiative wants to make visible and give voice to "thousands of ex-miners who have fallen ill after having worked for years to extract the coal on which much of the electricity production in South Africa is based".
"The Exhibition seeks to give voice to sick miners and to shed light on their struggle for justice.
Justice and Peace calls for "remedying the damage inflicted by the South African coal industry. Mining companies must take their share of responsibility in paying compensation to ex-miners suffering from the black lung disease", coal pneumoconiosis.
The South African Bishops, through the Justice and Peace Commission, have long supported the class action initiated by hundreds of miners who contracted the disease and by the relatives of workers who had died in the meantime due to pneumoconiosis (see Fides, 19/10/2018).
According to the "Globalization and Health", since appeals were started to get compensation for the damages suffered by the miners, at the end of 2017, 111,166 miners had received compensation, of whom 55,864 for permanent lung failure and other 52,473 for tuberculosis. However, another 107,714 claims were not paid. Many claims for compensation (28.4%) come from Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and other southern African countries. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 4/6/2019)