'My life came to a standstill when she left' - husband of Lily Mine victim

2017-02-03 12:36
Christopher Nkambule, Pretty Nkambule's husband. (Lerato Sejake, News24)

Christopher Nkambule, Pretty Nkambule's husband. (Lerato Sejake, News24)

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Barberton - A man whose wife was trapped underground in the Lily Mine collapse a year ago is lost without the woman he shared everything with.

Christopher Nkambule, 38, husband to Pretty Nkambule, looks heartbroken as he sits outside the one-bedroom flat he rents in Louieville, the rural Mpumalanga village near the mine. 

The back room is surrounded by tall trees and bushes. His toilet is a Wendy hut near his front door.

He is dressed in flip-flops, a blue overall top, and tracksuit pants. 

Nkambule, Solomon Nyirenda and Yvonne Mnisi were in a lamp room housed in a shipping container on the surface of the coal mine, when an underground supporting pillar collapsed on February 5 last year. The container was buried under about 60m of rock and soil.

“It hurts me because nothing is going as planned anymore. I am living a terrible life now. If she was here she would have advised me to stay strong, but now that I am alone it is hard,” he says.

Christopher gets filled with emotion when he speaks about Pretty. He describes her as the woman of his dreams. They wanted to build a house in Nkomazi, near Nelspruit.  

“Now we are the laughing stock of the community. If she was still here, we would have finished our house. Everything came to a standstill when she left.”

Christopher used to work at the mine as a plant operator. Pretty worked in the lamp room. She earned R6 000 a month, and he around R8 000.

Since the mine closed down, Christopher is unable to look after his four children, aged 14, 11, seven, and 18 months. They have gone to live with their grandmother. They kept asking when their mother is coming back.

“We sat them down and told them what happened because a year went by. The last time they saw her, she said she was going to work.

“We were a united family but now that she is gone, it is painful for them. It is also difficult for me because I don’t even get a chance to see them anymore.”

Christopher is known to his friends and family as “Fire”.

“I had quick feet on the soccer field. They called me Fire because I could move with the ball,” he explains.

Hearing what happened to Pretty was one of the most painful things he has experienced. 

“I was very hurt when I received the news. I took the youngest child and walked all the way to the mine. I went to witness the collapse of the mine myself.”

He says it is heartbreaking for him not be able to give his children the life they deserve. 

“The kids didn’t have a great Christmas and I was unable to buy them new clothes. Every Christmas we used to buy them new clothes. We also gave them gifts when they passed well at school.”

“Fire” says he feels like he has nothing to offer them anymore. 

However, he remains hopeful and believes that things will turn around for his family.

Read more on:    lily mine  |  mbombela  |  lily mine collapse

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