Angry families demand inquiry into explosion at Rheinmetall Denel Munition plant
Cape Town - The families of the eight victims who died following an explosion at an arms manufacturing plant in Somerset West last year are calling for the provincial government to institute a commission of inquiry into the incident.
This after Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) recently released the findings of a report that probed the explosion, in September last year, that left eight workers dead.
Nico Angelo Samuels, 41, Stevan Isaacs, 51, Mxolisi Sigadla, 40, Bradley Tandy, 19, Jamie Lesley Haydricks, 24, Jason Hartzenberg, 22, Triston Davids, 22, Thandolwethu Mankayi, 27, were killed in the blast.
The report found that the explosion was a result of a combination of human error and an electrostatic electricity risk, caused by an excess of graphite added to the material, an occurrence they said was unforeseeable.
Now families of the eight say they are unhappy about the findings.
At a community meeting this week to discuss their grievances, irate family members of the deceased said there was still no word on the Department of Labour’s report as well as the findings of the SAPS’ inquest docket. As such, they said they approached Premier Alan Winde to institute an inquiry into the matter so that “everything can be out in the open”.
Malcolm Davids, the father of Triston, said the family was still reeling from his death.
“My son had plans for his life and working at Denel was but one of the stepping stones towards achieving his dreams. I know there are people out there who say we must move on and it’s time for closure, but it’s hard when we don’t have all the answers,” he said.
“I want nothing to do with Rheinmetall, but maybe them saying sorry and owning up to what they did, but we still feel pain.
“None of them stood up and took ownership and that is all I want.”
Political activist, Dr Allan Boesak, who attended the meeting, said it was important for communities to take a stand against big corporations.
“We have to hold Rheinmetall accountable for what they do in our communities. We also have to hold our government accountable at a city, provincial and national level in terms of how to respond to this,” he said.
Spokesperson for RDM, Ruby Maree said they conducted an investigation in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Maree said, were an inquiry to be instituted, they would comply with any requirements.
The premier’s spokesperson, Bianca Capazorio said DA MPL Reagan Allen, who attended the meeting on behalf of the premier, committed to sourcing the two outstanding investigative reports to determining a way forward about the request for an inquiry.