Jacoba Mouto, who worked for Rheinmetall Denel Munition for 22 years, puts flowers at the front gate of the plant after eight of her former co-workers were killed in a blast at the site.
TownCape Times - The families of eight workers killed in an explosion at Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) RF (Pty) Ltd in Macassar, outside Somerset West, say they have not yet received feedback from management on what happened.

Management in the interim said that investigations were ongoing. By Tuesday afternoon forensic pathology had not collected the bodies of those who died in Monday’s explosion.

State Security Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba visited the plant on Tuesday and met the families of the deceased gathered at the front gate.

She said: “We are still waiting for the outcomes of the investigation, although it is going to take time. I appeal to all of us to respect the families and not interact with them.”

Denel CEO Norbert Schulze said three incidents had occurred over the past 10 years, where three people were injured and one person died.

Marilyn Hartzenberg, 44, said her son, 21-year-old Jason, was one of the casualties in the blast.

Hartzenberg said she heard the blast and within several minutes there were messages on social media that the blast had occurred at the RDM site.

State Security Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba visited the plant and met the families of the deceased gathered at the front gate. Video: Sandiso Phaliso

“It is devastating to lose him in such a manner. The worst part is that we are not getting answers from the company of what happened and when we can identify him.

“Someone should say something, especially when we can prove that we are family,” she said.

Denel spokesperson Vuyelwa Qinga said the company had taken all the necessary precautions to enable an investigation into the accident to begin effectively.

The management of the facility said the affected buildings had been cordoned off and declared unsafe.

RDM specialises in the design, development and manufacture of large- and medium-calibre ammunition, and is a leader in the field of artillery, mortar and infantry systems and plant engineering.

Its product portfolio includes large-calibre ammunition (76mm to 155mm), artillery projectiles, propellant, charges, pyrotechnic carriers, mortar bombs, 40mm grenades and various missile subsystems.

Monhla Hlahla, chairperson of the Denel Board, said: “We were shocked to learn from the leadership of RDM about this tragic accident where an explosion occurred during operations and destroyed the entire building as well as the immediate surrounding walls.

“It is heartbreaking that colleagues lost their lives in such tragic circumstances. Our prayers are with the families during this difficult time.”

Hlahla said flags were flying at half-mast at all Denel sites in support of the employees and the families.

ANC provincial spokesperson Faiez Jacobs said the incident was a tragedy as “one loss of life is one too many”.

“We don’t want to blame anyone, as the community we want answers. At this stage our priority is the safety of this community and to give counselling to the affected families.”

Cape Times