Police are conducting a raid at Lily Mine near Barberton in Mpumalanga in an attempt to curb the illegal mining. The raid follows a shooting incident which resulted in the death of two illegal miners on Thursday night.

It is alleged that rival gangs confronted one another and the two illegal miners were shot in the process. This has further halted operations by some former mineworkers trying to retrieve three bodies trapped underground in a container more than three years ago after part of the mine caved in.

Campers and former Lily mine employees say they heard gunshots and a lot of cars passing by; some stopped to ask them a lot of questions. As a result, some of them had to leave the camp because they thought their lives were in danger.

The bodies were discovered with their faces crushed with stones. Police think that that was a way of concealing identities, but fortunately, families of the two could identify them.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in Mpumalanga says the Department of Mineral Resources and Minister Gwede Mantashe must stop focusing on illegal mining and help the families of the three missing Lily Mine workers to get closure.

Former miners and families of the missing three miners, Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Nkambule and Solomon Nyirenda, are meeting to chart the way forward after operations were halted earlier on Saturday.

EFF Mpumalanga Chairperson, Collen Sedibe, says 5 February will mark four years since the bodies have been trapped underground.

“In three weeks it will be four years; 5 February will be four years that these three bodies are still trapped underground. Gwede was never here but he went there in Middelburg where there was the same issue of the zama-zamas. He was supposed to have been here long ago as a minister to come and speak to the families and at least intervene and come with a solution. They want to bury their loved ones. The DMR came and promised them that they will provide some technical equipment to assist them to continue their programme of retrieving the bodies.”