Pretoria — The families of three mineworkers, who were trapped underground when a shipment container that was used as a lamp room sunk underground in February last year, have received R200 000, said Mineral Resources Deputy Minister Godfrey Oliphant.
Three mineworkers - Solomon Nyirende, Yvonne Mnisi and Pretty Nkambule - were trapped underground when a shipment container that was used as a lamp room sunk underground on 5 February 2016.
"I am pleased to report that the three families have since been paid R200 000 each and 58 out of the 75 mineworkers also received an initial R10 000 each with a R40 000 balance still outstanding per worker," said the Deputy Minister.
The Deputy Minister thanked Rand Mutual Assurance for the R100 000 contribution they made; the Chamber of Mines of South Africa who contributed R600 000 and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) who contributed R800 000.
"I must emphasise that the amounts given to the families and mineworkers were ex-gratia payments only in addition to other benefits and entitlements due to them. More work still needs to be done in this Lily Mine matter and we shall not rest until we find a mutually acceptable solution," said the Deputy Minister.
Meanwhile, the remaining 15 employees were contractors whose banking details are still being processed.
He added that the families of Nkambule, Mnisi and Nyerende would be justified "to say that both as a country and the mining industry, we have failed them".
Deputy Minister Oliphant said that the commitment made to retrieve the container and recover the bodies of the three workers has not been forgotten.
"We shall not give up the efforts to retrieve the container and recover the bodies of the three comrades. All we need is the cooperation of all affected parties and the suspension of our differences in this matter."
He further added that an inquiry on this matter is on-going even though it has taken unreasonably long. This, as the Department of Mineral Resources in December 2016 announced that the investigation into the disaster would be converted into an inquiry.
"We will await the outcome and act accordingly thereafter," said the Deputy Minister.