Mashaba and Lily Mine Representatives Forge a Way Forward to Justice

The former miners and family members of the trapped Lily Mine Workers have endured more than any South African should endure for their dignity. 

After visiting the community a week ago, I committed to provide them with the best legal representation possible to achieve the justice they have been so fundamentally denied. 

After the collapse of the main entrance of the Lily Mine, three of their family and former colleagues – Pretty Nkambule, Yvonne Mnisi and Solomon Nyarende – have remained in an container underground. 

Their pleas to retrieve the bodies, and have the closure of a proper burial, have gone unanswered, and they have seen promises made by every sphere of South African government broken.

Today is a historic day. Representatives of the family members and former mine workers have come to Johannesburg to meet the legal teams that will be assisting them going forward. The focus of these legal efforts will be to serve papers on the mining company, as well as the Departments of Minerals and Energy and Labour, to compel them to provide closure once and for all.

Our objective through this legal process will be to ensure that the bodies of the three trapped former miners are retrieved, and outstanding wages owing to the former workers are paid. I would like to see the legal teams, through this process, hold these government Departments to account for their failure and seek a shareholding of the mining company operating Lily Mines. 

I am firmly of the belief that there is an unethical relationship between this mining company and government, and possibly senior politicians in their shareholding. This is the only explanation for the obstruction and intimidation that has been experienced by this community over the past four years. 

It took more than two years for former miners to get the police to finally open a docket, with allegations that the mine was deemed structurally unsafe prior its collapse. It is unlawful to not report the death of people under these circumstances. 

A court order was granted to restrict them from trying to retrieve the bodies of the three deceased miners, while illegal mining continues unabated. 

After attention has been drawn to the plight of this community, the structures in which they are living have been set alight and a bomb explosion took place nearby. They have been the subject of intimidation and victimisation at every step of the way.

While corporate haggling over the business rescue case continues, basic justice and dignity have been denied to these South Africans. 

These South Africans have demonstrated an absolute commitment in the face of great obstructions. It is the moral responsibility of The People’s Dialogue, and all of us, to ensure that we defend these South Africans in their quest for dignity and justice.

Issued by:

Herman Mashaba
The People’s Dialogue

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