It has dawned that trade unions might not have been alarmist for complaining about the persistence of appallingly subhuman working conditions in mines, after all.
Poor compliance with occupational health and safety regulations by mining houses meant that for every worker who died as a result of an accident on a South African mine, nine more died of tuberculosis, health Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, told legislators in Parliament. The incidence of TB among the country’s mineworkers and their partners and children was the highest of any working population in the world, he pointed out.
Motsoaledi said: “There are 41 810 cases of active TB in South African mines every year. It is 8% of the national total, and 1% of the population, very unfortunately.”
“It is the highest incidence of TB in any working population in the world. It affects 500 000 mineworkers, their 230 000 partners, and 700 000 children.”
Tendering evidence, Motsoaledi drew attention to 2009 statistics. “There were 167 fatalities that occurred in the mining sector due to mining accidents. But, in the same year, there were 24 590 cases of TB, which resulted in 1 598 TB fatalities,” he said.