The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has reiterated its frustration over the government’s failure to retrieve a container which was buried with three mine workers at the Lily Mine in Barberton, Mpumalanga in 2016.
This after ActionSA President, Herman Mashaba, announced his legal team’s intention to implement a strategy to force the government to retrieve the container.
On Wednesday, Mashaba announced intentions to force the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to retrieve what was an above-ground container which, when the mine collapsed, ended up about 70 meters underground, with about 20 000 tonnes of mining rubble on top of it.
Mineworkers Pretty Nkambule, Yvonne Mnisi and Solomon Nyirenda were trapped underground following a tremor, which caused the container to collapse.
The mining company and the government continue to claim that it is too dangerous to retrieve it.
Mashaba to force government to retrieve bodies of mine workers
Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa says it is the government’s duty to ensure that the container is brought to the surface.
Mathunjwa says, “The findings were very clear that the mine was on the wrong side of which the question is, why the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) does not prosecute the owners of the mine? What is the government doing?”
“Government has the full responsibility to recover the container, of which we assume the bodies are in. It is not the responsibility of the unions or any other formations – it is the government’s,” says Mathunjwa.
Families of the trapped Lily Mineworkers have been lied to: Mashaba
500 days since families camped outside Lily Mine calling for retrieval of loved ones’ bodies
On September 11, 2020, 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 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.
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.