By Lackson Munkombwe
A SOUTH African human rights lawyer has vowed to represent about 30 000 Zimbabweans, who used to work at South African mines, to access their compensation that have not been released for more than 30 years by different South African mining companies.
Addressing over 100 former Wenela workers in Bulawayo yesterday, Mr Barnabas Xulu of Xulu Attorneys said there has been progress since the last meeting in 2014 with about
2 000 Zimbabweans having registered so far.
The Witwatersrand Native Labour Association, more usually known by its initials WNLA or more popularly as “Wenela” was set up by the gold mines in South Africa as a recruiting agency for migrant workers.
“We are here to help people who lost their jobs in South Africa,” said Mr Xulu.
“We have workers who do not know where their funds are and where to claim them. As human rights lawyers we want to engage those people who lost their jobs and help them reclaim their monies and also get their proper benefits which every former mine employee is mandated to get.”
He said people who were once employed in mines especially gold and platinum are supposed to be examined at hospitals for any possible diseases that could have develop over time.
“Miners must be examined for possible sicknesses like tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumoconiosis among others for every two years.
“We understand diseases can develop for up to 30 years and hence these people who were retrenched from any of these mining companies 28 to 32 years now can still be at risk of suffering from any of the diseases. So we need to represent these people today so that they are able to get their benefits,” said Mr Xulu.
He said more cases will be filed at the court in Pretoria against the mining companies, an initiative that will spearhead the exercise so that people can get their monies as soon as possible.
“We need to reach out to as many people as we can, so that everyone has his cases filed at once. This will enable us to engage the mining companies.”
He encouraged people to register at Bulawayo ex-Wenela association offices, including details with the company registration number, contact details, the company they were employed at and also indicating the next of kin to ensure that everyone get benefits even if they have died.
“We are collecting data for everyone even for those who have died as long as their children are still living. Let those who had their parents or relatives who were employed in South African mines come and register and produce evidence,” said Mr Xulu.
He said he was also going to engage local stakeholders to help in the collection of data especially in rural areas where there are people who have been disadvantaged by not receiving the information.
A non-governmental organisation, the Institute for Rural Development Technologies has been so far engaged to help in the collection of data and also registering people in rural areas. Sunday News