Silicosis case: There’s sufficient commonality for a class action suit

The court is hearing arguments about class certification lodged by gold miners against mining companies.

FILE: Thousands of workers who were exposed to the harmful dust are seeking compensation. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Lawyers representing miners who have contracted silicosis say there is sufficient commonality for a class action suit to go ahead.

The High Court in Johannesburg on Monday heard arguments about class certification lodged by gold miners against mining companies.

Thousands of workers who were exposed to the harmful dust are seeking compensation.

Advocate Wim Trengove, representing the miners says there's sufficient commonality between the complainants to warrant a class action suit because the causes of silicosis or Tuberculosis are directly linked to alleged negligence by the mining companies.

He has argued that if each individual had to sue for compensation it would be cumbersome.

NGO Sonke Gender Justice's Tanya Charles agrees.

"For them to access justice that means they have to have good knowledge of English, they have to navigate the justice system, and have a lawyer explain things to them."

If the court certifies the class law­suit, it will be the largest of its kind in the country's history.