Cosatu president S'dumo Dlamini File picture: Sizwe Ndingane
Johannesburg - The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) has welcomed payments to the families of Pretty Mabuza, Solomon Nyarenda and Yvonne Mnisi whose bodies are still trapped underground at the Lily Mine in Mpumalanga, since a rockfall in February 2016.

"We also welcome the payment of R10,000 to the 75 injured miners that were promised a payment of R50,000, and we shall continue to work to support the fundraising efforts to raise money so that workers can receive the additional R40,000," the trade union federation said in a statement. 

"Cosatu remains adamant that any company that takes over operations at Lily Mine needs to prioritise the repatriation of the bodies of the trapped miners first. We also want to see the continuation of an investigation that will help determine the cause of the accident, we also demand that those found responsible should be held accountable." 

Deputy Minerals Resources Minister Godfrey Oliphant announced the compensations in Parliament during his department's budget vote debate on Tuesday. He added that his ministry would do everything to ensure that the remains of the three workers were retrieved. The three were trapped underground when a lamp room container they were working in fell into a sinkhole created by a collapsed crown pillar.

Rescue operations were launched for the three workers, but later aborted as the mine was declared unsafe. At least 76 of their colleagues were rescued. Subsequent recovery operations at the Barberton operations have since stalled. Lily Mine, which is owned by Vantage Goldfields, subsequently applied to be placed under business rescue administration. 

A number of Lily mine workers have since taken voluntary severance packages and left the company. Oliphant said an inquiry into the incident was continuing. 

- African News Agency (ANA)