CATHOLIC BISHOPS APPEAL TO THE PRESIDENT TO INTERVENE FOR THE BENEFIT OF THREE FAMILIES AFFECTED BY LILY MINE ACCIDENT
The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) Justice and Peace Commission makes the following appeal:
We stand in solidarity with the three families whose loved ones remain trapped underground at Lily Mine in a lamp container that fell into a sinkhole. The three families have been waiting in agony for more than one year without closure on the matter. We find this to be ethically unacceptable.
We are of the view that developments around retrieval of the container with the three mine workers could have been treated differently, with a greater sense of urgency and effectiveness around resource mobilisation, if the three aggrieved families were from a rich and powerful family and not from the poor working class. Although they are members of the poor working class living at the margins of society in Barberton, the pain of the three families should be considered to be the pain of the nation.
We therefore make an appeal to the President to make an intervention and ensure that the Government contributes funds for the rescue operation of the container that involves sinking a decline shaft 500 m from the original entrance. As requested by AMCU, this can be achieved effectively by the declaration of the Lily Mine accident as a national disaster.
It has been argued that the retrieval of the container is the legal responsibility of the Lily Mine, and not of the Government. We urge the President and the Minister of Mineral Resources to view and handle the rescue operation of the container in terms of the ethical responsibilities of a caring government, and not solely in terms of legal responsibilities of Mimco (Makonjwaan Imperial Mining Company), the company which owns Lily Mine.
We continue to remind the Government and the business sector that they all have an ethical responsibility to transform South Africa into a caring society. As their contribution to building a caring society, both the Government and Lily Mine should ensure that the retrieval of the container to secure closure for the three families is treated as a matter of social justice and national interest, and not solely as a business decision that is dependent on economic merit of the proposed shaft and the business rescue plan.
In a caring society, people are more important than profit.