The families and former colleagues of three mine workers who were trapped underground at the Lily Mine near Barberton in Mpumalanga are accusing government of not doing enough to assist retrieve their bodies. The former Lily Mine workers and some family members of Pretty Nkambule, Solomon Nyarenda and Yvonne Mnisi have been camping outside the mine for more than 230 days now.

Three years down the line after the Lily Mine outside Barberton caved in, families of the three miners are yet to find closure.

The trio were trapped underground when the incident occurred in 2016. The families only have one wish, that their loved ones be buried in dignity.

They camp outside the mine with the aim to put pressure on government and Lily Mine management to speed up the process of retrieving the bodies of the victims.

However, they say, their plea is falling on deaf ears. Pretty’s younger brother, 23-year-old Sifiso Nkambule claims that he had to drop out of the university to join those who are camping outside the mine.

“Life became so difficult for us as the families of those people who are still trapped underground. This year, I was doing my final year at UJ, I was doing accounting science but because it was quite difficult for me to cope with my studies due to that incident, that took place on the 5th of February here. I was forced to drop out to come and camp here to fight for our loved ones that are still trapped underground to be retrieved, to fight for government intervention and then my father passed on. He was so stressed about his daughter.”

Some of the former Lily Mine workers say they are tired of waiting for government and the owners of the mine, Vantage Gold Fields to retrieve the bodies of the three victims. One of the former workers, Master Mthethwa says they are planning to go underground on Friday to retrieve the bodies.

“ We are going down underground because of the two companies stopped us from going underground, because it was not safe,  it has been a long time since we stayed here. We came to the camp to stay here, so that we go down underground to retrieve those three colleagues. But because those companies stopped us and the government stopped, we stayed here for nothing, so we are going underground because we need those colleagues.”