The Tshiamiso Trust has announced that it has commenced the launch of Benefit Medical Examinations (BMEs) in eSwatini.

The Trust has already seen 2,500 claims lodged at TEBA offices in eSwatini in the past two years, with just over 1,000 ex-mineworkers awaiting BMEs in order for their claims to progress. The services started at Hlatikhulu Government Hospital on 16 October and will be followed by Manzini, Mbabane and Siteki.

The Tshiamiso Trust was established to give effect to the settlement agreement reached between six mining companies and claimant attorneys in the historic silicosis and TB class action. The companies are African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Sibanye Stillwater and Gold Fields.

The Trust is responsible for compensating all eligible current and former mineworkers across southern Africa with permanent impairment due to silicosis or work-related TB, or their dependants where the mineworker has passed away.

Some of the ex miners at the launch of the BME pilot service in the country

"The launch of BME pilot services in eSwatini means that the Trust can now book claimants for medical examinations. We encourage claimants to lodge their claims at their nearest TEBA office in order for them to be booked for BME. This is part of our ongoing efforts to provide greater access to the Trust’s services and ensure that eligible claimants can receive the compensation that is due to them,” said Dr Munyadziwa Kwinda, Chief Executive Officer at Tshiamiso Trust.

The Trust has clarified that it does contact claimants to book their BMEs but there are many claimants who are uncontactable – perhaps their numbers have changed and need to be encouraged to report to the BME location or contact the Trust.

"The BMEs are only for people who have ALREADY lodged their claims. The Trust’s data shows that there are around 8,000 potential claimants in eSwatini, however, only 2,500 have lodged their claims. We therefore want to invite more people to come forward to see if they qualify to lodge a claim so that they can be assisted," the Trust said in a statement.

The BMEs are a critical part of the claims process for former mine workers as they provide the required evidence of silicosis or tuberculosis and indicate the extent of the lung damage that enables the Trust to certify claims accordingly.

"We are grateful for the support of the government in eSwatini, as well as ex-mineworkers’ associations and other local partners as we continue to expand and improve our footprint,” added Dr Kwinda.

BME services will be available as follows:

16 - 27 October 2023 – Hlatikhulu Government Hospital

30 October - 6 November 2023 – Manzini

7 - 9 November 2023 – Mbabane

13 November 2023 – Siteki

Mineworkers and families of deceased mineworkers who meet the criteria but have not yet lodged a claim have been encouraged to do so at the TEBA office in Mbabane or in Nhlangano, or call Tshiamiso Trust on 00 27 10500 6186 (this is a call back number).

According to a statement issued yesterday, the claimants are reminded to be careful of people impersonating the Trust or promising to help speed up their claims. Only the Tshiamiso Trust can process claims and is providing this service free of charge. Claimants must only share their documents with the officials at the lodgement offices.