ActionSA Considers All Options to Retrieve Lily Mine Three

ActionSA is baffled by a letter received from Minister Gwede Mantashe’s office, which displays complete disdain for the Lily Mine disaster and the victims.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), in its letter, claims to have the interests of the bereaved families at heart but its actions demonstrate the contrary. The DMRE, instead of supporting the families, has again chosen to hide behind bureaucracy and red tape, flippantly stating that they are “respecting and not interfering with both the business rescue and legal proceedings.

This is a hollow solace for the victims and their families!

There is a real human cost to the 6-year delay in retrieving the container, holding the bodies of Pretty Nkambule, Yvonne Mnisi and Solomon Nyirenda, who suffered an horrific fate that morning of 5 February 2016.

The deceased – now dubbed the ‘Lily Mine Three’ – were spouses and partners. Most importantly, they were parents of children who are now growing up with the additional pain of seeing their grandparents camping at the foot of the mine in protest to have the container retrieved from underground so that they can lay their loved ones to rest.

We have advised the DMRE that we will be exploring all options available to us, to compel the Department to retrieve the bodies of the deceased. This should be an exercise separate to the dilatory Business Rescue Process and ancillary litigation – which is being used to avoid ultimate accountability.

The dispute relating to the ownership of the mine, cannot be used to avoid the obligation – moral or otherwise – to retrieve the container.

Importantly, we would like to remind the DMRE and all those concerned that South Africa has institutional memory of compassion, emanating from the herculean efforts made by the Chilean government to retrieve its citizens.

We implore the Minister and the DMRE to show such compassion, and to cease hiding behind politics and the ongoing commercial litigation. This is about lives lost and the sorrow of their families.

It is now time for decisive action.