Children’s seven-year wait for Lily Mine mothers

Seven years after the Lily Mine tragedy in Mpumalanga, three families are still waiting for their loved ones to be brought to the surface. They are Pretty Nkambule and Youvonne Mnisi, both mothers, and Solomon Nyirenda. They are believed to have been in the Lamp Room when the mine collapsed. Pretty is a mother of four children and Youvounne of two. Family spokesperson Mr Harry Mazibuko speaks of the many broken promises made to the family by a number of African National Congress (ANC) leaders, including Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula, former Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, and former Premier and Deputy President David Mabuza. “There’s a lot of betrayal, there’s a lot of trauma…This government doesn’t serve the people, doesn’t care,” Mr Mazibuko says. ActionSA President Herman Mashaba and Mpumalanga Provincial Chairperson Thoko Mashaba have now stepped in to assist with legal action against the mine owner and the State. Mashaba has also written numerous letters to plead with the ANC government to take action. – Chris Steyn

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Highlights from the interview

Seven years after the Lily Mine tragedy in Mpumalanga, three families are still waiting for their loved ones to be brought to the surface.

The missing victims are two mothers, Pretty Nkambule and Youvonne Mnisi, and Solomon Nyirenda. Pretty is a mother of four children and Youvounne of two.

They are believed to have been in The Lamp Room (housed in a shipping container) when the mine collapsed in 2016.

Family spokesperson Mr Harry Mazibuko speaks to BizNews about the tragedy he witnessed that day – and the long wait by the families for justice and closure.

“Yes, on the 5th of February, it was a normal day like any other working days at the Lily Mine. So we arrived early in the morning as usual, not knowing what lies ahead on that fateful day…Till today, it’s a day that…I will never forget in my entire God-given life.”

Mr Mazibuko lists “a galaxy” of reasons why the bodies of the three victims have not been retrieved.

And he tells how his own life has been on the line because of his commitment to getting justice for the families. “There was a time where I had to run for hiding because hitmen were hired to gun me down because they believe I’m the cause to make the families fight for their rights.”

Mr Mazibuko speaks of the many broken promises made to the families by a number of African National Congress (ANC) leaders, including former Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, and former Premier and Deputy President David Mabuza.

Read more: The ghost of unfulfilled promises

“Yes, we have portfolios and offices, but we do not have a government. This government doesn’t serve the people, doesn’t care.”

He blasts ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula who, in early May this year, made a “commitment that within three months, the issue of Lily Mine will be solved”.

This after the ANC and Mbalula defied the family’s request that activists not be bussed in for the Labour Day event, and that no loud hailers be used, but that a sombre approach be taken to pay respect to the lost miners.

“…three months have passed now. So there’s no will, there’s no political will for them to be found…,” Mr Mazibuko says.

“There’s a lot of betrayal, there’s a lot of trauma…,” he adds.

ActionSA President Herman Mashaba and Mpumalanga Provincial Chairperson Thoko Mashiane have now stepped in to assist with legal action against the mine owner and the State. 

Mashaba has also written numerous letters to plead with the ANC government to take action.

“We really appreciate the efforts and the intervention the ActionSA,” Mr Mazibuko added.

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