Almost half of the over 2000 victims of the 2015 pollution case blamed on Konkola Copper Mines in Chingola have started receiving compensation packages from mine owners Vedanta Mineral Resources.
The claimants are receiving compensation between K50 000 and K40 000after the matter was settled out of court earlier in January this year.
Those receiving belong to the southern part of the area affected by the pollution. These include Shimulala, Hellen, and Hippo Pool and were represented by United Kingdom based law firm Leigh Day.
Those from the northern part that comprise of Fitobaula, Fikolongo and Kamuchanga are yet to be compensated because the law firm representing them Hausfeld is yet to conclude out of court settlement talks with Vedanta.
The victims of pollution, who are mostly peasant farmers, in 2015 alleged that sulphuric acid discharged from Konkola Copper Mines’ Nchanga operations had poisoned water sources and destroyed their farmland.
The claimants took the matter to the Zambian High Court where judges attempted to award them K2000 as compensation but later registered the case in the London Courts with the help of United Kingdom law firms Leigh Day and Hausfeld on pro-bono.
The farmers feel no amount of money will be adequate to pay for the damage caused by the pollution that includes destruction of farming fields.
“The money looks little but it is good that the World has heard there are people who fought a good cause,” said 71 year old vegetable framer John Chinyimba of Kabundi.
“People with responsibility must help us to preserve water sources and the environment from pollution. This river (Kafue Rivers) is not for an individual but for everyone,” Mr Chinyimba added
The farmers have thanked the two law firms and local people who played a key role in taking the pollution case to the United Kingdom Supreme Court such as activist Chilekwa Mumba.
“God should bless the law firms from the United Kingdom. I am thanking people we worked with in this case. Mr Chilekwa Mumba used to leave his family in Lusaka to help us here in Chingola. May God bless Mr Mumba,” said 61 year old framer Luckson Chabinga.