The parliamentary portfolio committee on mineral resources has vowed that, whether it is risky or not, the three Mpumalanga miners still trapped underground must be rescued.
Three committee chairpersons – Sahlulele Luzipho (mineral resources), Lumka Yengeni (labour) and Olefile Sefako (select committee on land and mineral resources) – visited Lily Mine in Louisville outside Barberton, where a lamp office plunged about 60 metres underground following the opening of a sinkhole on February 5.
Pretty Nkambule, Yvonne Mnisi and Solomon Nyerende were working in the office when the ground collapsed. They have been trapped for 11 days. After the accident, 76 of their colleagues were rescued because they were already inside the shaft.
Luzipho said: “We’re of the view that those people must be rescued and other matters such as compliance must follow. Come rain or sun we want those people above the ground.”
The trio will write a report to Parliament, said Luzipho . He said it was premature at this stage to request more resources from government.
“We will not talk about the government releasing more resources because a question will arise of who these people were working for. We will be drawing an assumption that the employer said they don’t have money to rescue the workers,” Luzipho said.
Geological experts have advised mine management that the rescue mission should remain suspended.
The mine suspended the mission on Saturday following another collapse – which affected the tunnel entrance. On Monday, the walls of the sinkhole were scaling off.
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane announced that an investigation into the cause of the accident would begin after the rescue mission.
Last week, mine management had said that electromagnetic equipment had detected the metal office.
The mine has pledged R4.4 million as compensation for the 76 surviving miners and the families of the three who are still trapped underground.
Each surviving miner will get R50 000 while the three families would each be given R200 000.