The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) says it is concerned with the continued delay by the government of Malawi to pay terminal benefits to thousands of Malawians who worked in South African mines in 1960s, 70s and 80s during the apartheid era.
In a statement signed by CHRR Executive Director Micheal Kaiyatsa ,the organization said it has noted that the ex-miners, many of whom are old and ill, had to stage a demonstration yesterday, risking their lives amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in an effort to force the government to attend to their issue.
Kaiyatsa added that what government is doing to these people by delaying their compensations is the worst form of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.
“The delay has been a source of great frustration for the ex-miners, many of whom toiled for many years under hazardous conditions in South African gold mines,” he said.
He went on to say that they are also concerned that with each passing day, the ex-miners have higher chances of dying than of receiving their compensation.
About 48,000 Malawian ex-miners have been waiting for their compensations since their return from South Africa between 1988 and 1989.
Kaiyatsa said the anticipation is now turning into dejection and hopelessness for the ex-miners, as not even one of them has received their promised compensation yet which is inhumane.
“We urge government to speed up the compensations or risk a lawsuit. CHRR also urges government to come clean over claims by the ex-miners that the South Africa government remitted compensation for about 400, 000 Malawian ex-miners, but that the beneficiaries are yet to get their dues. CHRR is deeply disturbed by these claims, which is why we are asking the government to come out clean and address this issue as a matter of urgency,” he said.