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ActionSA not pleased with Mantashe over Lily Mine body retrieval

Vantage Goldfields' Lily mine in Barberton, Mpumalanga. File picture: Itumeleng English

Vantage Goldfields' Lily mine in Barberton, Mpumalanga. File picture: Itumeleng English

Published Jul 4, 2022

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Siyabonga Sithole

ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba has lashed out at Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, and his department for failure to put the interests of Lily Mine workers and their families before the interests of capitalism.

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In a statement issued by the party on Sunday, Mashaba says the party is “baffled” by the recent letter by the minister in which the minister says he cannot do much to help the victims, since the mine is undergoing business rescue and legal proceedings. Mashaba said the spirit of the letter shows the minister does not care about the three mine workers whose bodies are still trapped underground more than six years since the incident at the mine.

He said the department claims to have the interests of bereaved family members at heart, while in practice the minister chose to show its “disdain” for the families of the three mine works, adding that red tape was at the centre of the minister’s failure to act for the families’ interests.

Mashaba has called the letter by the department “hollow solace” for the victims and their families, as there was a human cost to the delay in retrieving the bodies.

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“There is a real human cost to the six-year delay in retrieving the container holding the bodies of Pretty Nkambule, Yvonne Mnisi and Solomon Nyirenda, who suffered a horrific fate that morning of February 5, 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 they can lay their loved ones (to rest),” reads the statement.

The party adds that it advises the department to explore all other options available to ensure the bodies of miners trapped underground since 2016 are recovered and brought up from underground.

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“This should be an exercise separate to the dilatory business rescue process and ancillary litigation, which is being used to avoid ultimate accountability,” the party says.

Mashaba says the dispute that relates to the mine should not be used to avoid moral obligation to ensure the miners’ bodies are retrieved, adding that the minister should show his compassion in the process.

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