DPP declining to prosecute Rheinmetal-Denel Munitions a ‘miscarriage of justice’

Family, colleagues and friends of fallen Rheinmetall Denel Munitions (RDM) workers at a memorial service last year.

Days away from the fifth anniversary of the explosion, the Director of Public Prosecutions has declined to criminally prosecute RDM. Picture Leon Lestrade/ African News Agency(ANA)

Published Aug 24, 2023


The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) have described the decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) not to criminally prosecute Rheinmetal-Denel Munitions (RDM) as a miscarriage of justice.

Cosatu and the SACP said they were extremely disappointed by the DPP’s decision, which comes despite recommendations made by the Department of Labour following a Section 32 inquiry that found grounds to criminally prosecute.

The DPP’s decision, sent to all parties in a letter dated August 22, read: “After a consideration of your representations, representations received from Messrs Webber Wentzel on behalf of the employer and the available evidence contained in the docket, I have decided not to institute any prosecution in the matter.”

Foreman Nico Samuels, 41, 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, were killed in a September 3, 2018, explosion.

“As the SACP and Cosatu, we are extremely disappointed by the decision of the DPP Western Cape Division to refuse to prosecute the RDM plant in Somerset West following the explosion that claimed the lives of eight workers who lived in Macassar.

“The reality is that the company is liable for criminal prosecution for the loss of life of ordinary workers. It is clear that the company places pursuit of profit above human life and justice. Police ineptitude and complicity with the company bosses robbed the families and the community of Macassar of justice. The decision by the DPP is a cover-up that represents a miscarriage of justice,” a joint statement by Cosatu and the SACP read.

They noted that the RDM Somerset West plant was prone to devastating explosions, with incidents recorded in 2018 and 2021.

“This confirms that the company places the lives of workers at risk in pursuit of profit. It further confirms that the company is not compliant with the provisions of Occupational Health and Safety Act. In addition, the lack of prosecution protects the company at the expense of poor workers, and therefore the state is complicit.

“As the SACP and Cosatu, we resolved to approach the ministers of justice, labour and police to seek justice for the deceased workers and their families. Further, the police ineptitude and complicity in the cover-up will be reported to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate,” Cosatu and the SACP said.

Advocate Winston Erasmus, representing the families of the slain explosion victims, said they were disappointed with the state.

“The state never investigated this matter, and we are considering our options; private prosecution is one of them. The state owns 49% in RDM so they were not interested in investigating the matter. They allowed RDM to investigate itself through an internal, biased investigation.”

Cape Times