File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Rheinmetall Denel Munition will open a book of condolences for staff and the community to share their messages at the front gate after eight people were killed in an explosion at the plant.

The company also says it will issue a daily update about its investigation into the deaths and was expecting to release the names of the deceased by next week, once the identification process had been concluded.

The official release of the names to the public will happen only once consultation with the affected families has been done.

A blast occurred at the propellant operations building at RDM’s Somerset West site on Monday afternoon and it destroyed the entire building. The Department of Labour, the police and the company are investigating the incident.

The explosion in one of the 400 buildings at the plant was felt up to 30km away and happened while workers were mixing five types of propellant for 155mm artillery charges the largest calibre in modern use.

“There is no worker who should die on duty, especially due to non-compliance with labour laws,” said the department's inspector-general, Aggy Moiloa.

RDM chief executive Norbert Schulze met with grieving families yesterday to answer their questions about the next steps.

‘‘There is nothing more important than providing the utmost support to the families involved in this heartbreaking incident.

“We are providing ongoing trauma counselling and tailored support, not only for the families directly affected, but for all of our staff. We are all working together to determine what happened and why. 

"We are working night and day with the authorities to figure this out because we all want answers and we need to be able to answer these questions, not least for the sake of the families and our community,” said Schulze.

He called on the media to respect the privacy of the grieving families.

“We understand there are many questions to be answered and we commit ourselves to being transparent during the investigation, but know that our first duty of care is to the families who have lost loved ones, and their protection comes first. This is not negotiable for us,” said Schulze.

A memorial service for the eight workers was held last night. Cosatu said it had raised concerns about the company's safety standards.