'There is no closure' - sister of Lily Mine worker

2017-02-03 12:36
One the the mine workers from Lily Mine, Solomon Nyirenda, who was trapped underground following a series of collapses in February last year. (Supplied)

One the the mine workers from Lily Mine, Solomon Nyirenda, who was trapped underground following a series of collapses in February last year. (Supplied)

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Barberton - The sister of one of the trapped Lily Mine workers says the bracelet around her wrist with his name on it is the only thing she has left of him.

 “I bought the bracelet because my brother’s birthday is on August 9 and it is for me to feel his presence. I wear this bracelet every day in remembrance of him,” Eunice Nyirenda says. 

Her brother Solomon and his colleagues Pretty Nkambule and Yvonne Mnisi were working in a lamp room housed in a shipping container of the surface of the coal mine when an underground supporting pillar collapsed on February 5, 2016. They were buried under about 60m of rock and soil.

Seventy miners were rescued via a ventilation shaft.

A year has gone by without any news of the retrieval of their bodies, after the mine, owned by Australian company Vantage Goldfields, was placed under business rescue. 

Solomon was 38. He began working at the mine in 2008. 

“It is very difficult for the family. There is no closure. We were promised that they will try their level best to retrieve the container, whether they were still dead or alive. We just wanted to see their bodies.”

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane promised to do everything in his power to help them, Eunice says. 

“We went to Pretoria with the family last year just to get hold of Zwane. He promised us that he is going to help us and the container would be retrieved.

“When we went there. He was nowhere to be found. It was painful for us because he didn’t even bother to show his face to these poor families.”

‘I will miss him’

The mother of three says he was the only brother she had. 

“My children would ask me when their uncle is coming back. It is very difficult for me to explain to my kids.” 

Their mother has Down Syndrome and finds it difficult to understand that Solomon is no longer with them. Eunice sighs and says their mother thinks her son is still at work. 

She will remember her brother for his humbleness and the love he had for her children.

“I will miss him very much. It might happen that I will see his body, and maybe I won’t.”

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