‘We are ready to help recover bodies’
Former Lily Mine employees and community members are ready to join the families in their quest to find the three who are still trapped at Vantage Goldfields outside Barberton in Mpumalanga.
The miners - Solomon Nyarenda, Pretty Nkambule and Yvonne Mnisi - who worked as safety officers - were trapped on February 5 2016 when mine pillars collapsed, swallowing the container they were working in.
The group of about 150 people say they are taking on the daring mission because they are tired of waiting for help.
They brought equipment and safety gear to take down to the belly of the earth today and said "come death or arrests, we are ready".
"Since February 5 in 2016, we have been waiting for help either from government or Vantage... Each year, for the past three years, people come and make speeches here and promise to help but nothing is coming through.
"Our brother and two sisters are in this mine buried by the rocks but people have the guts to even come here and lie that they are making plans to have the mine reopened, so that we retrieve them," said former employee Harry Mazibuko.
"We know that they are going to try getting court orders to stop us or arrest us, we are ready [for] even death when we enter this mine.
"We are ready to risk everything for the families of our three colleagues."
The group and the families have been camping outside the mine since April 30.
Spokesperson for the families Elmon Mnisi, who is Yvonne's father, told Sowetan they accepted any help to have the three removed from the mine.
"We asked these young men and women from the community and former workers to help us find our children... Whatever happens,..
"I can't have Christmas with my grandchildren who are going to ask me where their mother is.
"It's better we go down and die with them there," said Mnisi.
Mnisi said illegal miners were digging in the mine and they were not being arrested.
"As we speak, there are illegal miners inside this mine digging for gold but they disallowed us from entering before and they must be clear if the illegal miners are working for them stealing our minerals.
"The same power they have to stop us they must use in stopping the illegal miners," said Mnisi.
Attempts to contact Goldfields' chief executive Mike McChesney were fruitless as he did not answer his phone or respond to texts at the time of going to print yesterday.
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