Widow of former worker sues Anglogold for $6.5 million

The widow of a former worker of Anglogold Ashanti, and his mother, have jointly sued the company at the High Court, Labour Division for $6.5 million.

Mrs Joyce Baffour and Madam Akosua Abrafi, wife and mother respectively of the late George Emil Baffour accuse the company of negligence leading to the untimely death of their husband, father and breadwinner.

They want the court to order the multinational company to fulfill its statutory obligations as it has so far demonstrated, through its actions, that it will not honour its obligations unless compelled to do so.

According to the suit filed Monday, February 29, 2016, the late Ing. George Emil Baffour died on October 22, 2015 aged 32 years, when a conveyer carrying him and others underground a mine, submerged in water leading to him suffocating to death while some of the others were admitted to hospital.

According to the court documents, Anglogold Ashanti while refuting the allegation of negligence leading to the engineer’s untimely death, has since failed to give any lawful explanation why the deceased was dislodged from the conveyance attached to the hoist when it entered the water.

The plaintiffs claim all their attempts for Anglogold Ashanti to explain the circumstances leading to the submergence of the deceased in water underground has been resisted by the company, while demands for compensation have also been refused.

In addition to the refusals, Anglogold Ashanti has also refused to give the complainants copies of the safe work permit issued to the deceased on October 22, 2015; the accident report prepared by the company; a site plan of the accident scene and photography of the accident scene to satisfy themselves that the company was not negligent.

“Plaintiffs add that the refusal of Defendant as stated above is not only further evidence of attempts to hide its negligence herein but same also violates article 24(1) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana as well as section 118 of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651) of Ghana.

“The Plaintiffs aver that they are extremely shocked that a large multinational company like the Defendant failed to put in place the usual hierarchy of safety controls made up of either elimination of the hazard, substituting the system of work, putting in place engineering and administrative controls, or at least the provision of personal protective equipment needed to prevent the death of the deceased and instead of confronting and admitting its negligence it is taking all steps to stop proper light being shed on its negligence or that of its servants, agents or assigns.

Other reliefs sought by the plaintiffs who are suing in their capacity as the personal representatives of the estate of the late worker, include general damages for the loss of personal services including but not limited to advice and training the three children would have received from their deceased father and the value of his companionship; general damages for mental distress, consortium, loss of love, companionship, comfort, affection, society, solace and moral support; and an amount equivalent to 60 months’ earnings of the deceased under the Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1987.

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