COSATU statement on the 04th Anniversary of the Lily Mine Tragedy

The Congress of South African Trade Unions remembers the three Lily Mine workers Pretty Nkambule, Solomon Nyirenda and Yvonne Mnisi who are still trapped underground four years after their container was buried underground. We still find it unacceptable that these workers are yet to be repatriated and that no one has been held accountable for the accident since that tragedy on the 05th February 2016.

The Lily Mine tragedy stands as a shameful symbol of how government and the mining sector have failed the mineworkers for over a century in this country.

Since then the insatiable quest for profits has led to an increase in the number of mining fatalities. Mining companies only pay lip service to the five {5} point pledge plan that was meant to achieve zero harm with regard to mining fatalities

Government has no tangible enforcement mechanism to help reduce and ultimately stop mining fatalities. We do not yet have sufficient labour inspectors to ensure that there is compliance with health and safety regulations in the mines.

The mine bosses who are meeting in Cape Town in a Mining Indaba are still not paying serious attention to job security, economic growth and access to educational, housing and other facilities for the mine workers. There are still inadequate training and limited opportunities for promotion, especially for black mineworkers.

The surrounding communities that host mine operations are still not benefitting but are only dealing with the environmental damage that this sector has inflicted on this country. There is no improvement in how mine closures are managed. We still see many mines being abandoned, with mine shafts left open, resulting in the development of contaminated mine water.

The plight of mine workers continues unabated while the mine bosses are enjoying their perks and exorbitant salaries.

The Lily Mine tragedy should act as a reminder to workers that they need to unite and work together to fight for their rights. Mining communities and workers need to work together to demand that both the government and the mining sector should start taking showing responsible leadership and compensate them for the damage they continue to do.

Government also owes the three families closure because they will never find comfort while their loved ones are still buried underground in the mine. We reiterate our call for the relevant authorities to do the right thing and work with the families to recover the remains of these workers.

Issued by COSATU

 Sizwe Pamla (COSATU National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 679