Pretoria — Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza has committed to build 1 000 RDP houses for the Louisville mining community living next to the closed Lily Mine in Barberton.
The project, the Premier said, will create an employment opportunity.
"We want the people to be able to have food on the table and to have shelter they can call home, while we deal with and solve the challenges of Lily Mine," Premier Mabuza said.
Three bodies of miners have been trapped underground at Lily Mine for about a year. Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Mazibuko and Solomon Nyerende were working in a shipping container office when the entrance of the mine collapsed, leading to the container falling into the ground.
On Thursday, Premier Mabuza visited the area and held a two-hour-long meeting with the local community, which expressed dissatisfaction about the lack of government services and economic activities.
The community, which is estimated to be around 6 000 families, relies mainly on working at the mines.
Premier Mabuza said he wants the construction of the houses to be done by the local people in order to create employment for them, as unemployment is rife in the area following the closure of two mines.
He also wants the local people to pave the local roads and do maintenance of dilapidated infrastructure such as clinics and schools.
The Premier learnt about the plight of the Louisville community after visiting the area following the mine accident last year, which left the three workers trapped underground. He expressed his unhappiness about the lack of services such as water, roads, schools and clinics in the area.
He wants the area to be a proper human settlement with all necessary services.
"We want the people here to live a better life just like anybody else. They should also enjoy the fruits of their freedom. We are of course concerned about the issue of the mine. Our wish is to improve their lives while we attend to retrieving the bodies.
"I am not going to wait for the investors. I will look for other options for the mine to open, and find the way to recover the bodies of our beloved. We want to insist that the mine must open," said Premier Mabuza.