Engineers killed in Astron refinery fire mourned
Cape Town - The two people who died in an explosion at an oil refinery in Milnerton last Thursday have been identified.
Mpilo Sibiya, 32, and Likhona Vece, 27, were killed and seven others injured in the fire that raged for hours at the Astron Energy plant from about 4am.
Astron Energy CEO Jonathan Molapo said the explosion was a “terrible tragedy”.
The cause of the blast is yet to be revealed.
“Our priority now is to support our colleagues and to continue to ensure that the plant is completely safe. We will conduct a full investigation of the incident,” he said.
The deceased were both Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) alumni from the Engineering faculty, as confirmed on the official CPUT Alumni/Convocation Facebook page.
“It is with sadness that we learn the deadly fire that broke out at the Astron Energy SA refinery in Milnerton before dawn on Thursday, 2 July 2020, claimed the lives of two of our Engineering alumni,” the statement reads.
“Mr Mpilo Sibiya graduated with his B.Tech in Chemical Engineering in 2016. He was only 32 years old. Ms Likhona Vece graduated with a B.Tech in Chemical Engineering in 2015. She would have turned 28 on 8 November.”
CPUT’s Engineering Department conveyed condolences to the loved ones of the deceased.
“The faculty of Engineering and Built Environment as well as the Department of Chemical Engineering convey deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues at Astron and CPUT.
“The country has been robbed of young and promising engineers. May their souls rest in peace.”
In an emotional response, Ntokozo Simelani, a close friend of Mpilo, says that he was a man of great precision.
“He was a good man and a conscientious person. He was a hard worker since high school, even the teachers referenced to him as a positive example. I knew that, like every black South African child, he was working hard to better himself and provide for his family.
“I knew that he would do this [this job] no matter the risks because family was important to him,” wrote Simelani.
Relatives of Likhona told the Daily Voice that they are still too grief-stricken to comment at this time.