COPS yesterday broke up a group of former mineworkers who wanted to retrieve bodies.

Yvonne Mnisi, Solomon Nyirenda and Pretty Nkambule’s bodies are still thought to be underground after their container caved in three years ago.

The recovery mission at Lily mine in Louieville, Mpumalanga, was expected to start today.

According to leader Harry Mazibuko, a company claiming to have taken over the mine made empty promises about recovering the bodies.

Workers said they wrote letters to the minerals resources department but no one had come to their rescue.

Mazibuko said: “We’ve been promised nothing but lies for three years – government and so called new investors’ meetings which we’re not informed about as employees and families.

“We decided to start our own operation to recover our colleagues. We’re not going to wait for a government that’s not willing to assist.”

The former workers, residents and relatives have been camping at the mine for about two weeks.

They were served with court papers last Thursday instructing them to leave within 10 days.

They told Daily Sun nothing would stop them from finding the remains.

Colonel Mtsholi Bhembe said four people were bust. “They were charged with trespassing and failing to adhere to a court order. They’ll be in court soon.”

Spokeswoman Ayanda Shezi said: “We support all efforts to ensure the new owners can resume operations and find the container, so families can have closure.”