Minister Mantashe’s Office Rejects Lily Mine Families Request For Legal Representatives At Stakeholder Engagement

The Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy has rejected the families of the Lily Mine victims’ request that their legal representatives be present at a stakeholder meeting between Minister Gwede Mantashe, the families concerned, the mining company and the local and provincial governments.

This is after the families have indicated that they are unwilling to attend a stakeholder meeting without their legal representatives.

In written correspondence on Monday evening, to ActionSA on behalf of the families, the Ministry said that the invitation to the families is not transferable, and therefore their legal representatives are not permitted. This is deeply concerning to the families of Solomon Nyirenda, Pretty Nkambule and Yvonne Mnisi who were engulfed in a sinkhole at the mine on 5 February 2016.

The families have waited eight long years for justice, having camped outside the mine for six years. They have repeatedly been lied to both by the ministry and the mine owners and it is, therefore, a wholly appropriate request that their legal representatives be allowed to attend proceedings to ensure that their rights and best interests are protected when they have been disappointed so many times before.

ActionSA has over the years worked tirelessly to achieve justice for the families, and it is through our legal team, at a massive cost, that we were able to expose the lies of the ministry and the mine owners that the bodies of the victims could not be retrieved. The Mbombela Magistrate’s Court in October last year already found that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) should consider criminal prosecutions against a number of individuals, including the mine owners and officials of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE).

However, eight months since the Mbombela Magistrate’s court ruling, and after having promised to make a decision by the end of January this year, the NPA is yet to make a decision on possible prosecutions while the family awaits justice. The DMRE themselves have allowed the Business Rescue Practitioners to be in contempt of three court orders which determined that a proposal should be tabled to creditors to restart mining operations.

The families of the Lily Mine victims have already given me power of attorney to institute civil proceedings against the individuals found to be possibly guilty of the tragedy if the NPA refuses to do so. As ActionSA, we have determined that mining operations at the mine should be restarted in order for the three victims to be retrieved and that the families should be compensated for the tragedy which occurred.

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 05 February 2016, and we need to ensure justice for the miners and their families.