Daily Maverick

Ammunition testing resumes at deadly Denel blast site

By John Stupart/African Defence Review

Ammunition testing at the Rheinmetall Denel Munition plant in Firgrove, east of Cape Town, resumed for the first time on Monday, just a week after eight people were killed in an explosion.

The workers had been part of the company’s propellant blending operation, when the building they were in disintegrated in the explosion last Monday afternoon.

The cause of the blast was still being investigated by the police, the labour department and an independent contractor.

Rheinmetall Denel Munition CEO Norbert Schulze said that he understood that residents in the area were still traumatised, and that they had to make every effort to be sensitive to heightened fears.

“The community may hear some noise resulting from the munition testing which will be carried out on our dedicated testing site and I want them to know that these sounds are normal and that they should not be alarmed,” he said.

“We are all still mourning a great loss to our community and need to support each other during this time, so as a company we are making extra efforts to be inclusive with the community about what’s going on at our site.”

He said the names of those who had died would only be released once the identification process was completed and after consultation with the affected families.

The company is a partnership between Rheinmetall and Denel, established in 2008, with Rheinmetall holding a 51% share and Denel being the minority shareholder with 49%.

State Security Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan last week visited the National Key Point to be briefed and to offer their condolences.

“There are various scenarios and the investigation process will explore each possibility,” Gordhan said after his visit last week.

A long row of flowers lined the front wall of the company as people paid their respects during Gordhan’s visit.

Project David Mabuza’s Long Walk to Rehabilitation
By Stephen Grootes
Government’s longest march towards recovery starts with Gigaba’s new visa regime – with a mountain still to climb
By Marianne Merten
Freedom and ethics – then and now
By Raymond Suttner
World leaders place lifestyle choices and health back on the individual
By Kerry Cullinan
For the poor, the UN is ‘a beacon of promise in a landscape of doubt’, Ramaphosa tells the UN in a nod to Mandela’s legacy
By Peter Fabricius
Funding of two new coal IPPs in South Africa under threat
By Chris Yelland
SABC’s rescue plan: A lithe and lean, revenue generating people’s machine
By Marianne Thamm
US president’s vow to drop countries that are ‘not our friends’ threatens US aid to SA
By Peter Fabricius
Africa, and the world, need safer seas and shipping
By ISS Today
Battleground Gauteng, Part 2: Living in a DA ward, where promise outweighs delivery
By Ferial Haffajee