Families of deceased Lily Mine will finally receive legal assistance, Mashaba says

2020-01-22 16:22
Herman Mashaba.

Herman Mashaba. (Azarrah Karrim, News24)

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Legal papers will be served on the mining company and government entities involved in the deaths of three mine workers at Lily Mine in 2016, People's Dialogue founder Herman Mashaba said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a press briefing in Rosebank, Mashaba said the families and colleagues of the deceased Lily Mine workers, Pretty Nkambule, Solomon Nyarenda and Yvonne Mnisi, made their way to Johannesburg " to meet with 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," Mashaba said.

He appointed Mkhabela Huntley Attorneys in the matter.

In 2016, three miners were trapped underground at Lily Mine after the entrance to the mine collapsed.

Shortly afterwards, the company which held the mining rights went into business rescue, leaving the family without answers.

Their bodies remain trapped underground, the families said.

Last year, the families of the miners laid culpable homicide charges against the directors of the company.

Mashaba pledged "the very best" legal support for the families of the three miners, saying he heard about their plight and "committed the full support of my family to provide the very best legal representation to them".

READ: Mashaba pledges legal support for families of Lily Mine victims

During the briefing, Mashaba said the tragedy was "a problem waiting to happen", adding that he was baffled by how the case could have taken four years to resolve.

Harry Mazibuko, who was the health and safety officer at the mine at the time of the accident, also joined Mashaba at the briefing.

He said on February 5, 2016 - the date of the accident - their lives changed.

Since then, however, Mazibuko said there was no communication from the company and the government.

"We believe that by getting closure, we will celebrate with them in spirit," Mazibuko said.

For 272 days, Mazibuko, family and colleagues of the deceased workers have been camping at the mine in an attempt to get closure, but they have been intimidated by police.

Sifiso Mavuso, Pretty Nkambule's brother, questioned if the delays in finding the bodies was because they were black, adding that African people were being "sold out" because of mining.

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

"How can black people be trapped underground for four years without anything being done?"

His sister had left behind three kids who constantly asked where she was, while his father suffered from depression after the tragedy and died soon after.

The legal process, Mashaba said, would aim to retrieve the bodies of the mine workers and claim outstanding wages the workers were owed.

"I would like to see the legal teams, through this process, hold these government departments to account for their failures and seek a shareholding of the mining company operating Lily Mine," Mashaba added.

He said he was suspicious of the relationship between the government and the company.

"It took more than two years for the former miners to get the police to finally open a docket, with allegations that the mine was deemed structurally unsafe prior to its collapse," Mashaba said.

"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," Mashaba said.

Read more on:    herman mashaba  |  accidents  |  mining
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