by Adv Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL – DA Constituency Head for the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality
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Date: 30 July 2018
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Northern Cape will be engaging with various stakeholders to find answers to questions raised by community members affected by exposure to asbestos.
We have been approached by community members of Kuruman who have queries around the administration of the Asbestos Relief Trust. The trust was established in 2003 as a result of a settlement agreement in a class action suit which sought to compensate workers in mine houses for their exposure to asbestos.
We want to establish why certain claimants have been excluded from receiving compensation, especially as the community feels that the original terms of the class action suit have not been honoured in the settlement agreement and subsequent creation of the trust.
It is also worrying that trustees appear to have no strong links to the Northern Cape, that the trust is not located in the Northern Cape and that annual general meetings are not held here. This creates barriers for the claimants and potential beneficiaries, particularly following the closure of offices which were previously opened in the province. Community members feel that they do not have a voice on the trust and want to have a community representative included on the board.
There are also concerns around the funding of social programmes. While the trust deed of the Asbestos Relief Trust does allow for the funding of such programmes, this is done at the sole discretion of the trustees and some programmes do not appear to have links to asbestos-related matters.
In the absence of regular engagements between the trust and the community, it is easy for perceptions of wrongdoing to be formed and for distrust to be fomented. We will therefore be seeking clarity from trustees of both the Asbestos Relief Trust and the Kgalagadi Relief Trust, which operates in the same district, as well as the lawyer who represented the community in the class action suit.
Adv Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL
DA Constituency Head for the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality
082 302 2117 / 079 874 6179
071 251 5558