Families of trapped Lily Mine workers pay tribute outside the mine, six years on

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Families of the three mine workers who are trapped underground at the Lily Mine in Loueville near Barberton in Mpumalanga held a prayer service at the camping site outside the mine, to commemorate the tragedy.

This Saturday marks exactly six years since a container at the mine entrance collapsed in 2016 and buried Pretty Mnisi, Yvonne Nkambule and Solomon Nyarenda. Their bodies remain underground.

The families and former workers at the mine continue seeking divine intervention after six years of anguish.

Government efforts to retrieve them were halted citing safety concerns.

Lily Mine Tragedy | Update on protests by victims: Harry Mazibuko

The families and some former workers at the mine have been camping outside the mine for more than 1000 days.

Sifiso Mavuso, a brother to Pretty Nkambule, trapped underground, says her sister left a five-month-old baby.

He says the child is a constant reminder of the years gone by since the tragedy happened.

“She is almost six now. Everytime when I look at her or her picture we always have that pain. We have got questions that we ask ourselves. Even now she doesn’t know here mother. It’s so difficult.”

Patricia Nyirenda, a cousin to Solomon Nyirenda accuses the government of ignoring their plea to assist in retrieving their loved ones. She says the situation is taking its toll on their health.

“We are very distressed, heartbroken. Even in our flesh, we are no longer the same, especially my sister Solomon’s mom. She has been sickly.”

Spokesperson for the families of the trapped miners and the former workers Harry Mazibuko says government lacks commitment to resolve their plight. He says they will never leave the camp site until their colleagues are retrieved.

“Unfortunately, the only intervention we get is for our government to send fully armed official to forcefully remove us. We have been assaulted. We have opened a case. It’s sitting with IPID. That is the only intervention.”

Action SA leader Herman Mashaba, who has been assisting the families and former mine workers with legal representation, has issued a statement condemning the government’s failure to assist on the situation.

Meanwhile, Vantage Goldmines, the owners and management of Lily Mine sent a statement to the bereaved families committing itself to resolving the matter.

The company was put under business rescue more than four years ago.