An explosion took place at Rheinmetall Denel Munitions Factory in Somerset West in 2018. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
An explosion took place at Rheinmetall Denel Munitions Factory in Somerset West in 2018. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Denel explosion inquiry postponed to July

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published May 7, 2021

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Cape Town - The inquiry into the fatal 2018 explosion at Cape Town's Rheinmetall Denel Munitions (RDM) have been postponed to July, following the completion of the evidence gathering exercise a day ahead of schedule.

The inquiry held at the Macassar Civic Centre, was meant to have sat until yesterday, Thursday.

However, after one witness declined to appear due to a Covid-19 scare and another said they were available only today, Friday, the attorneys and presiding officer agreed the interviews would be conducted during the next round set for July 5 and 7.

Before proceedings began earlier there was a moment of silence in memory of the eight people who died in the explosion: team leader Stevon Isaacs, 51, operators Mxolisi Sigadla, 40, Bradley Tandy, 19, Jamie Haydricks, 24, Jason Hartzenberg, 22, Triston David, 22 and Thandolwethu Mankayi, 27 as well as factory supervisor Nico Samuels, 41.

Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA
Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA

The labour department’s acting provincial communication officer Venessa Cupido said: “During this week’s evidence gathering session which started on Monday, 13 witnesses testified before the commission chaired by Mphumzi Dyulete. No less than 27 witnesses are lined up to testify before the Section 32 inquiry.

“Interested parties in the inquiry include: the employer, employees, organised labour, family members and the department of employment and labour.”

Another departmental spokesperson Musa Zondi said once the commission of inquiry has established what had happened it will compile a report and recommendations to the department’s chief inspector who in turn will hand over the report to the national prosecutions for consideration in case there was negligence.

On the first day of the proceedings safety and environment manager Thembeka Ganda took to the stand and said: “A series of events that led to the most probable cause of the explosion can be reconstructed.

“As no employees at the accessing facility at the time survived, some assumptions had to be made based on the available evidence, and it will never be known with 100% certainty what exactly happened.”

Cape Argus

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