Residents of four villages in Zambia namely, Shimulala, Hippo Pool, Hellen and Kakosa have secured victory in a lawsuit filed against a London-based mining giant, Vendata and its subsidiary, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM).
According to the villagers, the activities of this organization has caused grievous damages to their land and health due to the constant pollution of surface water and shallow wells close to the mine which serves as their primary source of drinking water, washing, bathing and irrigation.
The class action lawsuit was filed by the Zambians in a court in the United Kingdom instead of their home country for fear that, they may not get justice for the damages they have suffered over the years. Even though Vedanta appealed to the British court that, the trial should take place in Zambia, the UK Supreme Court disagreed, citing “the problem of access to justice” in Zambia.
The court ruled in favor of the villagers against Vedanta with undisclosed compensation details. In a joint statement released on Tuesday, Vedanta and the legal representatives of the Villagers, Leigh Day stated that, the claims had been settled.
“Vedanta Resources Limited and Konkola Copper Mines Plc confirm that they have agreed, for the benefit of local communities, the settlement of all claims brought against them by Zambian claimants represented by English law firm Leigh Day.” the statement said.
Vedanta Resources is not the only multinational company causing damages in Zambian communities; One would have thought that the country picked a lesson from the Glencore case, the Swiss mining company that stole billions of dollars out of Zambia through a system called transfer payment. Similar to the Vedanta case, thousands of villagers who lived close to Glencore’s affiliated mining sites were affected medically.
Other African countries equally face same challenges from multinational companies; however, these mining giants mostly eludes punishment in African courts. Should all affected communities in Africa consider international lawsuits to get their concerns addressed and also claim compensations for damages?