ActionSA, today, commemorated the eight years since the Lily Mine Tragedy occurred on 5 February 2016 – when Solomon Nyirenda, Pretty Nkambule and Yvonne Mnisi were engulfed in a sinkhole at the mine – by holding a prayer service outside the mine with the victims’ families and joining the community for a service to commemorate the victims.
Ever since I visited the mine in 2020 where the victim’s family camped outside at the mine, I have vowed to bring justice to the families by ensuring that the mine shaft be reopened to retrieve the container in which the three victims were entombed, securing compensation for the families of the affected miners, and ensuring that those who are liable for the tragedy are criminally prosecuted.
I am unwilling to live in a society where tragedies such as Lily Mine occur, and we fail to support the victims and the families because of the myriad crises facing South Africa due to the ruling party’s failures. We cannot become numb to the pain and suffering of those around us and therefore need to give the victims and their families the justice they deserve.
It continues to break my heart that after so many years, the families and the community have still not received justice despite court judgements such as the Mbombela Magistrate’s Court inquest in mid-October last year which confirmed that individuals should be criminally prosecuted, including our government – in particular the Department of Minerals and Energy – which was found reluctant to intervene.
In this regard, ActionSA remains extremely disappointed that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in Mpumalanga has failed to decide whether it will criminally prosecute those liable for the Lily Mine tragedy of February 2016, despite promising to do so by the end of January 2024. It is the failure of our prosecuting authority to prosecute those guilty of a crime that contributes to the rise of lawlessness in South Africa.
When I visited Lily Mine at the end of October 2023, I received Power of Attorney from the families of Nyirenda, Nkambule and Mnisi to pursue civil and criminal litigation against the parties found liable. If the NPA decides not to institute charges, ActionSA will approach the NPA to get Nolle Prosequi to possibly launch our own private prosecution as part of our commitment to achieve accountability for those found liable.
ActionSA is resolute in helping the affected families, which is why we have repeatedly reached out to the NPA and Business Rescue Practitioner for progress updates on criminal prosecutions, and the implementation of the business rescue plan which would reopen the mine shaft to retrieve the bodies.
The Constitutional Court has already refused to grant Vantage Goldfield’s leave to appeal a ruling which determined that the adopted Business Rescue Plan and amendments to it should be submitted to creditors for a decision. ActionSA believes that the business plan should therefore urgently be tabled to creditors for implementation.
ActionSA remains resolute in our commitment to help retrieve the bodies of the three miners and will continue to assist the families in any way possible. We cannot allow people to forget what happened at Lily Mine on 5 February 2016, and we need to ensure justice for the miners and their families.