An irate Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa refused to hand over a memorandum to department of mineral resources (DMR) officials during a protest in Pretoria on Thursday.
After spending hours protesting outside locked DMR offices, a visibly infuriated Mathunjwa said the families of the three mineworkers and their colleagues were returning to Mpumalanga with their document, which they intended to hand over to Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Joseph Zwane.
“This is stupidity gentlemen. We have asked you to bring us even any deputy minister available in Pretoria, and you have failed. This is simply politics at play. If it were the National Union of Mineworkers, Zwane would have rushed to receive their grievances,” Mathunjwa addressed two DMR who sought to receive the memorandum on behalf of Zwane.
“Workers have now seen the kind of stupid people leading us. Whatever the minister and his deputy are doing, one of them should be on duty, to address matters which arise at the office. What they are doing here is stupid. That happens when you’re led by Mosebenzi who doesn’t understand anything about mining.”
Mathunjwa repeatedly tried to call Zwane on his mobile phone but the calls were unanswered.
Shortly before 7pm, Mathunjwa told the crowd of protesters to disperse.
“We will be back. We need to come back with more buses and they will listen to us. Let us return home in peace. We have tried but we cannot leave our memorandum with anyone,” said Mathunjwa.
“The people here have seen that the ANC leaders they put in power do not care. These people I’m leading here are from Mpumalanga, an ANC stronghold. So if this is how the ANC treats its voters. It’s very bad.”
Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Nkambule, and Solomon Nyerende were trapped underground in February when the lamp-room container they were working in fell into a massive sinkhole created by a collapsed crown pillar. Their bodies have not been retrieved yet, despite different efforts.
Elmon Mnisi, Yvonne’s father accused Zwane of lying and being disingenuous.
“He came after the accident in February and was making all kinds of promises to the affected families. Now we have come to ask the minister regarding the money and assistance he promised, and he has gone into hiding. I am deeply disappointed in Minister Zwane,” said Mnisi.
“All the families affected in this case are struggling. It’s not easy for us to live everyday without finding closure on this matter.”
The DMR offices were locked and manned by several police officers when the crowd of protesters arrived around midday on Thursday.
The protesters waved placards written: “Lily Mine- they put you to power, their lives matter”. They had marched for kilometres across Pretoria CBD, to the DMR offices.