Macassar resident Sophie Abrahams heard the blast and rushed to her 71-year-old uncle in Marvin Park, neighbouring the factory.
A massive blast at the Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) facility near Somerset West killed eight people on Monday afternoon. It could not be confirmed how many had been injured.
“I heard the blast faintly and then the earth shook beneath me briefly, and as I went out, people said it was the factory.
‘‘My uncle is a pensioner and lives right next to the factory, and I rushed to make sure he and his daughter were safe. Thank God they were.”
Abrahams said despite initial reports and much confusion, authorities did not evacuate the area.
Jaihne Magerman, 18, from Heldervue in Somerset West, said: “There is construction right next door, so I thought it was something there, and a while ago a movie was shot nearby.
“As I went inside the house I just saw the windows shake and my friends messaged me to ask if I felt it as well.”
Magerman said she went out and saw smoke billowing from the direction of the factory.
Denel is the largest manufacturer of defence equipment in South Africa and operates in the military aerospace and landward defence environment,
City fire and rescue spokesperson Theo Layne said their members responded around 3.45pm.
“On arrival, it was ascertained that an explosion had occurred and staff of the factory were extinguishing the subsequent fire. Eight people are confirmed dead.”