An explosion took place at Rheinmetall Denel Munitions Factory in Somerset West, police and fire engines were called to assist and there are also reports of injuries and deaths. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) in the Western Cape on Tuesday said it would write to the labour department to formally request to be part of the formal inquiry into the blast which took place at Rheinmetall Denel Munitions (RDM). 

Eight people were killed when an explosion occurred at the munitions depot, which destroyed the entire building last week.

"Denel SOC owns 49 percent of RDM and as Numsa we are recognised at Denel nationally. We have an interest in the matter as per section 31 and 32 (5)(c) (iv)of OHSA 85 of 1993, as the recognition agreement was signed at a National level," spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said.

"This gives us the right to demand that we participate in whatever inquiry or investigation which may take place at the plant to establish the cause of the blast. We are concerned that a company which is partly owned by Denel, should experience such a tragedy. We are concerned about the safety of workers at that plant and we are wondering whether all safety procedures were followed."

Hlubi-Majola said could it be that the company clearly and blatantly violated the explosives regulations as contained in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, but said that only an independent investigation would be able to confirm whether there was a deliberate omission or commission by the employer.

She said only an independent and thorough investigation of the plant would reveal the true cause of the accident. They will do everything in their 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," she said.

"We send our condolences to the families and loved ones of those who were killed in the blast at RDM, Jason Hartzenberg aged 21 was one of those who has been killed. It is reported that he had dreams of being a police officer. We send our deepest sympathies to Hartzenberg family and friends, as well as to all those who lost loved ones in the explosion."

African News Agency (ANA)