‘All I want now is my sister’s body’

LOW’S CREEK – When she left home on the fateful day of the Lily Mine collapse, Ms Pretty Nkambule could not find her missing water buckets, and 13 days later she has not returned home to find out what had happened to them.

The 33-year-old mother of four is among the three missing mineworkers who are still trapped underground after the mine collapsed almost two weeks ago.

When Mpumalanga News paid the devastated family a visit at a commune where she and her family of six are sharing a rented room, her domestic worker, Ms Cindy Thwala who looks after her children while she is at work, revealed that Nkambule was a “perfect” person who did not deserve such misfortune.

“Sis Pretty always put her children first and she would always say she would die for them to have a great future.

Little did we know that her words would literally come to pass,” said Thwala, adding that Nkambule’s job was a huge sacrifice as she would always complain about safety at the mine.

The visibly shaken Thwala, who now takes care of the victim’s children, five-month-old Promise and two-year-old Blessing while the other two siblings are at school, admitted that her hope was wearing thin, however, remembering Nkambule’s positive attitude to life quickly reminded her that she might still be alive.

“Right now we all don’t know what to think and I worry for these children. Blessing is already displaying withdrawal behaviour that I find hard to cope with,” she added.

According to their aunt, Ms Phindile Nkambule, the other children – aged nine and 14 – have been turned away from the mine on two occasions where they went hoping to find out where their mother was.

“We were surprised when we were informed that there were children asking for us at the gate. They had walked all the way because they want to see their mother,” she said.

At the mine where the families of the victims are camping day and night, these journalists managed to speak to the family members who are not allowed to talk to the media, a fact which they found suspicious.

Phindile is very frustrated by the secrecy surrounding the rescue activities at the mine.

“What are we supposed to think now that they are starting to talk about compensating us when they haven’t told us what’s happening? Are they giving up on finding our beloved?” she questioned.

She admitted to having lost hope that the victims would be found alive.

“All I want now is my sister’s body so that when we relate what happened to her, we can show her children where we have buried her,” she said.

Phindile also raised serious concerns about the management’s refusal to have a ritual performed at the mine.

“The chief told them a long time ago that a ritual should be done but they are dragging their feet just because they don’t know what we are going through here,” she sobbed.

However, Pretty’s husband, Mr Christopher Mazibuko is still optimistic that his wife is still alive.

“I’m not losing faith until I see her body. I haven’t seen one so, I know that she is still breathing down there,” said the clearly emotionally exhausted Mazibuko.

“We have plans to celebrate our marriage and to finally move the children to the house that we are building.

I know that together we shall see and enjoy the fruits of those plans,” he added.

Outside the mine, a handful of community members were waiting, some still confident that the victims were still alive.

“There is nothing to lose in hoping. We are going to keep on believing and we don’t blame anyone for this.

May the will of God prevail,” said Ms Ntando Maseko.

Nomvula Chawane

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