Flowers are laid outside the Denel premises as a memorial for the victims of the explosion. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Management at the now infamous Macassar munitions factory have made ex gratia payments to the victim of families who lost their lives in an explosion at the factory.

The Rheinmetall Denel Munitions factory’s leadership has initially contributed funds towards the expenses involved in hosting relatives as part of the mourning process.

The families will also attend a lunch hosted by RDM today, 12 September.

RDM chief executive Norbert Schulze said it forms part of a series of engagements with the families, RDM staff and the greater community as part of the healing process.

“We are continuing to support each other during this difficult time. Our priority remains the families, and we are providing whatever assistance we can, including ongoing counselling,” said Schulze.

Eight workers died last Monday after the propellant blending operation room they were in disintegrated in the explosion.

The cause of the blast is still being investigated by the police, the Labour Department and an independent investigator.

Schulze said the company had hoped that the results of the police’s forensic investigations would be ready by on Tuesday, but it seems more likely that this process will be concluded at the end of this week.

“The site has been cleared, but the investigation is ongoing, so the site remains closed,” Schulze said.

He also said RDM was providing ongoing trauma counselling to all staff members.

“In addition, RDM worked with the two dozen churches in the area to dedicate their recent Sunday services to mourning this loss.

“The main focus remains on taking care of the families, but there is also further community engagement planned,” he said.

Asked about safety and ensuring that such incidents do not occur in future, Schulze said: “Safety was, and still is, the highest priority of RDM.

“RDM complies with and exceeds the latest national and international safety standards to ensure the maximum safety for our employees and the surrounding communities,” he said.

Rheinmetall Denel Munition RF (Pty) Ltd is a high-tech manufacturer and supplier of selected munitions and explosive-related products for the armed forces and police in South Africa and around the world.

Rheinmetall Defence from Germany owns 51% and South African state-owned entity Denel owns 49%.

Schulze added that the company would continue to provide regular updates, but can only release the names of the deceased once the identification process has been concluded and only after consultation with the individual families affected.

Numsa Western Cape secretary Vuyo Lufele said only an independent investigation will reveal the true cause of the accident.

“We will do everything in our power to unearth the truth behind this incident for the sake of workers and their families.

We demand justice and compensation for those who lost loved ones, and those who were injured in the accident,” he said.

[email protected]

Cape Argus