Lily mine families challenge government to help retrieve loved ones' bodies

Sifiso Mavuso holds his head in his hand after expressing his family's frustrations at not having closure.
Sifiso Mavuso holds his head in his hand after expressing his family's frustrations at not having closure.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Families of the three miners who died in the Lily mine disaster in Baberto, Mpumalanga, have asked government to come clean whether it is willing to help retrieve the bodies of their loved ones or not.

The bodies of Pretty Nkambule, Solomon Nyarenda and Yvone Mnisi were accidentally buried in the mine after the steel container caved into the earth in 2016 and has not been able to be retrieved ever since.

After early attempts, the mine later abandoned the rescue effort, citing safety challenged and lack of money to complete the mission. Speaking in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Sifiso Mavuso, Nkambule’s brother, said her sister’s death and the failure to retrieve her body had devastating effects to his family.

Mavuso said there was sense among family members that their loved ones were not getting help because they were poor and black.

“If our government is failing to help us they must tell us so that we can ask intervention from the international community…Our government has been able to help victims of cyclones in Mozambique. Why can’t they help us here? The English saying says charity begins at home,” Mavuso said.

Vusumuzi Dlamini, a traditional leader representing the Nyarenda family, echoed the same sentiments.

“Let them come clean about whether they are prepared to help us or not. If they are failing to do so, they should not hide. They must tell us so,” Dlamini said.

Last year, family members of the deceased miners have been camping at the site for over 300 days in the hope that government would assist.Just a week ago, former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba promised to help the families via the courts to compel government and the mine to retrieve the container.

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