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Anglo was aware about lead crisis in 70s, says expert

ARON CHIYANZO


ANGLO America was aware of the lead poisoning crisis in Kabwe as early as 1970 and the risk of poisoning to their employees, a medical doctor has said.


Anglo American is subject to a class action lawsuit in South Africa on behalf of 100, 000 children and women poisoned by the world’s biggest toxic lead mine in Kabwe.
According to Dr Lawrence’s affidavit, a key witness who has come forward for the victims as Anglo American South Africa (“Anglo”) goes to Court to delay proceedings in the class action lawsuit, Anglo knew of the lead poison- ing crisis as early as 1970.


Dr Ian Lawrence has coun- tered Anglo’s argument that it bears no responsibility for the lead poisoning in the com- munity.


He said mine management was certainly aware of the risk of lead poisoning to their employees as the blood levels of all staff were checked regularly.


“I became deeply con- cerned at the number of deaths amongst children un- der the age of five in the residential township where local employees lived… the difference in the number of deaths between mine children and local children was reasonably significant, so much so that I could not understand why
no-one else had raised the issue or carried out an investigation,” Dr Lawrence said.


Anglo has now asked for a second extension to file its response in the class action launched by Johannesburg and London-

based lawyers representing the victims’ families on October 20, 2020.
The hearing to decide whether the extension will be concluded today at the Gauteng Division of the High Court of South Africa.


Anglo cites issues with ob- taining documents that are relevant for purposes of the certification of the class action.


However, some documents that Anglo American states it cannot locate and needs more time to find, were in fact handed over in the similar case against Anglo American and AngloGold for failing to protect their workers from silicosis.


Mbuyisa Moleele, a Johan- nesburg-based law firm led by Zanele Mbuyisa, and Leigh Day, the leading international law firm specialising in hu- man rights and mass envi- ronmental tort claims, have brought a Class Action Lawsuit Against Anglo American South Africa Limited.


The lawsuit is about serious corporate human rights abuse resulting in multigenerational lead poisoning of children and women in Kabwe.

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