The families and former workers at Lily Mine in Lowscreek in Mpumalanga hosted a prayer service to mark 500 days camping outside the mine premises. The mine was closed four years ago after it caved in, trapping three miners.

Bodies of Solomon Nyirenda, Pretty Nkambule, and Yvonne Mnisi are still trapped underground.

The families and former mineworkers are seeking divine intervention in order to get assistance following the tragedy four years ago.

Efforts to retrieve the three miners were abandoned for safety reasons.

Since April last year, their families and former mineworkers have been camping outside the mine premises in an attempt to exert pressure on the government to fast track the process of retrieving the bodies.

Close to 40 of them including the families of the three trapped and former miners have sacrificed the comfort of their homes to live under difficult conditions.

They have erected tents and shacks in the area waiting for assistance. The families have vowed not to leave the area until their loved ones are retrieved and the mine re-opened.

Some family members say they have developed illnesses as a result of the situation. “We are going nowhere. We’d rather die here. We know our children are here. We have been deeply affected. I am now hypertensive and diabetic. It affected me after the incident.”

Families to approach court 

Spokesperson of the families and former mineworker, Harry Mazibuko says no progress has been made to retrieve the bodies and reopen the mine.

Mazibuko says they are in the process of filing court papers against the mining company, Vantage Goldfields, and the Department of Minerals and Energy.

He says the efforts of a potential investor are being frustrated. “We are going to the highest court in SA to file an application against Vintage Goldfields and DMR, the Department responsible because they are playing hide and seek to tell SA and the world what is holding the way forward to retrieve the container because the question of vantage is and was that they don’t have money to find the decline and go underground and retrieve the container. On the other hand, there is Aquamanzi, the company committed to retrieving the container.”

The former mineworkers had in the past embarked on a search mission for the container after numerous attempts to get the government to retrieve the container.

However, their mission was abandoned after the Department of Minerals and Energy advised them to stop, saying it was not safe to go underground.

Attempts to reopen the mine are being delayed by a court battle between Vantage Goldfields and Siyakhula Sonke Investment over a share certificate.