Inquiry into Denel explosion hears first round of witness testimonies

The Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) premises in Macassar.

The first session of witness testimonies in the commission of inquiry into the Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) deadly explosion, was heard by the inquiry last week and the continuation of proceedings in the inquiry were postponed to later this year.

According to Venessa Cupido, acting provincial communication officer of the department, the inquiry, launched by the Department of Employment and Labour is tasked to investigate the facts around this fatal explosion at the Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) plant near Macassar three years ago. Chaired by Mphumzi Dyulete, the Section 32 inquiry, hosted its sessions at the Macassar Civic Centre, in Burg Street, where those in attendance could listen to witness testimonies relating to events about the fatal explosion.

Witness testimonies of those called to appear before the inquiry started on Monday 3 May and was concluded on Wednesday May 5, this was according to the department, a day earlier than what they had anticipated.

This explosion occurred on Monday September 3 2018, at the munition plant and caused great trauma and devastation in the local community with the death of eight workers on duty at the plant on that fateful day.

The witness testimonies to be heard by the RDM Inquiry were initially scheduled to run over the course of four days, staring at 09:00am in the morning until 15:30pm.

Ms Cupido said out of the 27 scheduled witnesses to appear during the inquiry, a total of 13 witnesses had testified during last week’s proceedings.

According to a press release issued to Bolander by the Department of Employment and Labour, “The inquiry moved faster than expected as one witness declined due to Covid scare and another is only available on Friday. The attorneys and presiding officer agreed that they will interview them during the next round which is is set for Monday July 5-Wednesday July 7 2021.”

The explosion in 2018 at the local munition plant at the time was a cause of great shock and panic to residents in and around the Helderberg area due to it’s earth-shattering nature and extremely loud noise caused by the blast.

The explosion caused the death of RDM employees, Nico Samuels (41), plant supervisor, Stevon Isaacs (51), team leader and operators; Jason Hartzenberg (22), Mxolisi Sigadla (40), Jamie Haydricks (24), Bradley Tandy (19), Thandolwethu Mankayi (27) and Triston Davids(22).

According to the department, the objective with the establishment of this Section 32 inquiry is to investigate the incident, specifically if there had been violations of occupational health and safety (OHS) regulations in the events leading up to this horrific incident. “The mandate of the commission is to hear testimony from all interested parties as to what transpired during the fatal day,” stated the press release.