Johannesburg- South Africa (PANA) -- Thousands of South African asbestos poisoning victims will benefit from an out-of-court settlement that will see Cape plc pay them 20 million British pounds ( about 15 million US dollars) in compensation.
The settlement reached in London Wednesday will see Cape plc, a UK company that had a number of asbestos mines in South Africa, pay an advance of 10 million pounds to about 7000 of its former employees or those who lived near its mines, now suffering from asbestosis.
According to a report by the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the remainder of the money would be paid over a prescribed period.
SABC radio said that the settlement was reached in the interests of the victims because many of the affected persons were elderly and desperate.
They could not afford a drawn out court case and there were signs that Cape plc was likely to be liquidated.
The South Africans had originally lodged a claim of about 100 million pounds in the London High Court.
However, in November, their London-based lawyer, Richard Meeran, had indicated that his clients were prepared to accept 25 million pounds.
Although details remained sketchy, local lawyers representing the claimants said about legal fees would swallow five million pounds of the compensation.
Each family would end up with about 25 000 pounds.
In local currency, that sum is the equivalent of a senior manager's annual salary.
Lawyers said in November that asbestos mining company Gefco and its parent company Gencor would be included in the bid for compensation.
It remained unclear whether they would follow-up the matter with these companies.