ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba on Wednesday said his party’s legal team will aim to present the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) with a court order to retrieve the container at Lily mine in which three miners were trapped during a 2016 mine collapse.
Three miners – Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Nkambule and Solomon Nyerende – were in an above ground container, used as a lamp room, when the mine collapsed and buried them 70m underground, under 2 000 t of earth.
A 2017 DMRE report found the Lily mine management responsible for the mine collapse.
“Can you imagine, the fear they must have felt? What was going through their minds, as that container dropped, trapping them inside, that darkness? Can you imagine the heat, the lack of oxygen, water, food, or communication with the outside world? Can you imagine what suffocating to death must feel like?” Mashaba asked.
ActionSA’s legal team recently obtained the DMRE’s report that deemed the container irretrievable.
Mashaba said the report and its documentation, despite being the basis of the conclusion that the container is irretrievable, has very little to do with retrievability.
“It focusses on the events leading to the collapse of the mine in great detail. The only reference to the irretrievability of the container is located in the findings of the report. No evidence or documents exist in the 500-page report or its annexures, to substantiate this finding. Despite claims of the existence of a report by rock and engineering specialists, no mention is made of such a report or any of its findings. For all intents and purposes – it does not exist!” he said.
The party’s legal team will create a legal strategy to force government to retrieve the container and they will also argue for a court to find the conduct of the DMRE “reprehensible” and compel the department to identify those responsible “for the perpetration of this lie”.
Mashaba has written to the National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Bathoi to identify a path to criminal prosecution.
He apologised to the families of the miners during the media briefing for being “deceived” and also issued a warning to government that he would not back down until the container is retrieved.
“If you are counting on me, breaking a promise to the people of Lily mine, or losing interest in this matter, you are mistaken, because, I will not stop until they get justice. Finally, to the people of South Africa: You may not understand the plight of miners, or regard this mine to be in the far-flung reaches of Mpumalanga, but, I need to assure you that the plight of these brave South Africans matters!” Mashaba stated.