Lily Mine: 700 days of sorrow

Image via: @ynews Twitter

Lily Mine: 700 days of sorrow for families of victims buried underground

Families of trapped Lily Mine workers have accused Vantage Gold management of delaying the reopening of the mine to avoid prosecution.

Lily Mine: 700 days of sorrow

Image via: @ynews Twitter

Families of the trapped Lily Mine ex-employees are pleading for assistance with retrieving the bodies of their children. Monday, 29 March 2021 marks exactly 700 days since the families have camped outside the Lily Mine in Barberton, Mpumalanga.

On the 5 February 2016, a container-office went down when a shaft collapsed at the Lily Mine entrance in Louisville near Barberton in Mpumalanga. The bodies of three workers, namely Pretty Nkambule, Yvonne Mnisi, and Solomon Nyarende have been trapped underground ever since.


Harry Mazibuko, spokesperson for the former employees and affected families, who was a safety officer at the time of the incident, alleged that Vantage Gold CEO, Mike McChesney, and the management are delaying the opening of Lily Mine.

“The management keeps introducing new investors in order to delay the reopening of the mine because they know that the National Prosecuting Authority will prosecute them. Even the report by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy established that the mine management was liable for the incident.

“The government and its ministers, various politicians and unions promised to assist us so that we can bury our loved ones and go back home, 5 years later, we are here and nothing has been done to retrieve the three bodies.  As we mark 700 days of betrayal, lies, empty promises and humiliation from the Vantage Gold management, the Business Rescue Practitioners, our government and other formations, including Unions, we call upon every citizen of our country to join and assist us to find closure and justice.

“The container that sunk with our loved ones is retrievable. We have found investors with the money to retrieve it. We as the families have no trust in the BRP and Vantage management and we do not believe that they want to open the Mines, because they are the same people that have caused our children to be missing for 5 years and want to keep the evidence hidden.”

Joint statement by Harry Mazibuko and affected families.

READ: Bodies of trapped Lily mineworkers have not been retrieved three years on


In January this year, business rescue practitioners confirmed that they have two bids and that operations could resume if all stakeholders give the plans a nod. This followed after several failed bids to acquire the gold mine from Vantage Gold since 2016.

Vantage Gold CEO Mike McChesney said that Vantage Gold does have money to reopen the mines and it has been given to the Business Rescue Practitioners plans to reopen the mine have been slightly delayed by the Arqomanzi court interdict. “We had planned to reopen the mine in July this year, however because of the Arqomanzi court interdict we are now expecting a slight delay by one month or two. We are certain that we will open the open this year.”

Regarding the allegations that the company is delaying the reopening of the mine because they don’t want to be prosecuted, McChesney rubbished the claims. “Our plans have always involved retrieving the container, since 2016. We are positive that the court order will be lifted on the 4th of May 2021. We have overwhelming support from the creditors, former employees, and the community at large; they have submitted affidavits and other supporting documents to the court and want the mine to reopen as soon as possible,” McChesney said.