Lily Mine Tragedy – Families and ActionSA Disappointed by Postponement in Arson Case

The families of the Lily Mine tragedy and ActionSA are disappointed by the postponement of court proceedings against Kaizer Gwebu. The accused is alleged to have torched the settlement occupied by protesting Lily Mine families who camped outside the mine for over two years, seeking justice for their loved ones.

Gwebu, with previous convictions for murder and armed robbery, is presently out on bail following his arrest in connection to the current case of arson. Gwebu was previously sentenced to 30 years and released on parole in 2013. Sadly, Gwebu’s court appearance lasted only three minutes before the matter was postponed. The families and colleagues of those who perished at Lily Mine waited several hours before proceedings commenced as the presiding magistrate only arrived shortly before noon; the matter was set for adjudication 09:00 am. The case will now be heard on 24 June 2021.

We will be instructing our legal team from Mkhabela Huntley Attorneys to file a complaint, on behalf of the families, with the Magistrates Commission and the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services regarding the presiding officer’s handling of this matter.

It is equally disappointing to note that Gwebu remains the only suspect arrested in this matter. This is despite reassurances from the South African Police Service (SAPS) that Gwebu’s known accomplices would also be arrested; it remains unclear whether the case continues to be under investigation. 

Prior to yesterday’s hearing, the Lily Mine families and the ActionSA leadership team handed over a memorandum of demands to the Low Creek’s Police Station demanding that SAPS provide answers to:

  1. Why have no further arrests have taken place, despite Gwebu’s accomplices being known?
  2. Why no action has been taken to stop the intimidation of the families and affected miners by those responsible for the arson attack?
  3. Demands for an update on the criminal charge laid by the families, over 3 years ago, regarding the collapse of the container because of criminal negligence by the mine owners.

Two years on, it also appears that there has been no proper investigation into the wrongful arrest of several community members opposing the destruction of the settlement occupied by the Lily Mine families.

Harry Mazibuko, the families’ spokesperson, continues to seek clarity on the matter from the SAPS to no avail.

After 5 years of pleading and petitioning to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones, so they may be buried with dignity, the families and former miners of Lily Mine continue to be treated with disdain.

ActionSA stands firmly behind the Lily Mine families in their pursuit of justice.