Anglo beats Zambian class action for lead poisoning
High court in Johannesburg dismisses damages claim by mining town residents with costs
The high court in Johannesburg has ruled in favour of Anglo American in a class-action lawsuit application brought by human rights lawyers on behalf of people in the Zambian town of Kwabe.
They were said to have been affected by lead pollution due to mining in the area.
Anglo SA was one of the owners of the Kabwe lead mine, which was in production from 1925 to 1974 when the Zambian government nationalised it and operated it until it was closed in 1994.
About three years ago, lawyers of Mbuyisa Moleele Attorneys in Johannesburg and Leigh Day in London chose SA to fight the case of lead poisoning in the community living near the Kabwe mine because of SA’s track record in class actions.
Mbuyisa Moleele and Day pursued Anglo SA for an unspecified amount of money for 13 claimants in the class-action application.
The 13 people represented in this case were children younger than 18 and women who may become pregnant or have been pregnant.
However, Anglo announced on Monday that the high court dismissed their application with costs.
“This claim was entirely misconceived from the outset, both legally and factually,” Anglo legal & corporate affairs director Richard Price said in a statement.
“As we have stated throughout, Anglo American has ever sympathy for the situation in Kabwe, but we are not responsible for it. We welcome the clarity and force of the court's decision to dismiss this claim as untenable.”
Anglo SA was singled out in the claim as it was during its involvement with the mine that the most of the pollution was caused, according to the lawyers.
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