Founder of the People’s Dialogue and former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba has pledged to provide “the very best” legal support to the families of the three miners who were trapped underground at Lily Mine in 2016 after the entrance to the mine collapsed.
In a statement on Wednesday, Mashaba said the families contacted the People’s Dialogue “when they had nowhere else to turn to”.
Mashaba said the families have his “full support” and he would ensure they get justice.
“After having heard the plight of the people of Lily Mine, I have committed the full support of my family to provide the very best legal representation to them.
“We are going to ensure that their voices are heard in our courts of law, and we are going to ensure that they experience the justice they have been so fundamentally denied up until this point.
“In the modern day and age of mining technology, it is unfathomable that it can take four years to provide closure to these South Africans.”
Mashaba said the families and friends of the miners have been treated “with a profound lack of respect”, as they have no closure on what happened.
“Every sphere of government has failed to provide them clarity in terms of what is going on, or the support they need. As one of the miners said during our engagement – ‘we do not have a government in our country’.”
In 2016, the entrance to the Lily Mine in Mpumalanga collapsed, trapping three miners underground.
Shortly after, the company which held the mining rights went into business rescue, leaving the family without answers.
“Instead of being offered support, they were issued with a court order instructing them to stay at least 1 000 m away from the mine, after they made the decision to camp nearby and try to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones and colleagues themselves,” Mashaba said.
The families of the miners laid culpable homicide charges against the directors of the company last year.
“It is apparent to me that government officials in our country are connected to this disaster,” Mashaba said.
He said he believed the “entire process” favoured the mining company.
“The community have been refused the opportunity to lay criminal charges against the mining company until last year because no case has ever been opened,” Mashaba said.
“They have endured so many broken promises and failures, and yet they have never given up.”