Lily Mine Tragedy: President Ramaphosa must intervene to avoid another Marikana

Tomorrow the former miners at Lily Mine will resume the retrieval efforts of the underground container and the bodies of the three trapped miners in the absence of an undertaking by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to assist them with their efforts.


The group have made these intentions clear, in spite of a court order requiring them to remain 1000m away from the mine, following a period of fruitless engagement with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. The former miners and family members at Lily Mine attempted to engage the department seeking their support, but their representations have not received the dignity of a response.


For over 400 days the former miners and families have been camped outside the mine. They have, until now, obeyed the court order while illegal miners continue in the area unabated. They have exhausted all efforts to engage government in respect of the retrieval of the container, the conclusion of the business rescue process or for justice arising from the DMR’s report that mine management were criminally negligent.


Our lawyers have engaged the Department through an application to obtain the reports that formed the basis of their decision that the container could not be retrieved. This report will be the basis of our legal challenge, especially as new prospective mining companies have indicated their willingness and ability to retrieve the container.


The fact that the Department is not responding to either the former miners or our legal processes to date, is consistent with the insensitive and uncaring manner in which this whole matter has been treated.


The very same DMR sent our mine rescue teams to Chile in 2010 as a part of an international effort to retrieve the trapped miners there, but are incapable of doing anything to support the former miners and families at Lily Mine.


I have been clear from day one, that this entire matter stinks of political involvement given that every level of our government has acted with hostility or indifference to the plight of the former miners and families.


Tomorrow, following the lack of response, they have committed to return to their efforts to retrieve the container. My greatest fear is that the indifference displayed by our government to their plight, will turn to the kind of violence that we have witnessed before at Marikana.


I call upon the President and all structures of government to act with restraint and compassion. In the event that my calls are not heeded, I must be abundantly clear that our legal teams will be set to the task of holding people to account.


I would ask all South Africans to hold the former miners and families in their thoughts and prayers this evening.