Acting President David Mabuza on Monday night, sent condolences to the families of eight people who died after an explosion at Rheinmetall Denel Munition’s plant in Somerset West, near Cape Town.
“We have learned with sadness of the unfortunate explosion this afternoon that has reportedly claimed eight lives while injuring several others. We wish to express, on behalf of the country and Government, our deepest condolences to all the families of the deceased people. May their souls rest in peace,” said Mabuza.
Mabuza also wished all those injured a speedy recovery and urged the authorities to get to the bottom of the cause of the explosion so that necessary action can be taken.
Earlier, the company said that the explosion would be investigated and the area was cordoned off due to it being unsafe. The explosion happened at its propellant operations building.
“During operations, an explosion occurred and destroyed the entire building and the immediate surrounding blast walls. There have been fatalities and the affected area has been cordon off due to it still being unsafe. Therefore we are unable to confirm any further details pertaining to the fatalities, at this point in time,” the statement read.
“Rheinmetall Denel Munition has also assured the City of Cape Town that the plume that followed the explosion holds no threat to the general public. All necessary precautions are being taken and the investigation will carry on at first light tomorrow [on Tuesday].”
Earlier, City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management said all communication on the incident would be handled by the company as the site is a National Key Point.
“After an initial inspection, Rheinmetall Denel Munition RF(Pty) Ltd has assured the City of Cape Town that the plume that followed the explosion holds no threat to the general public. All necessary precautions are being taken and the investigation will carry on at first light tomorrow. No further information is available at this stage.”
At least eight people are confirmed dead and several others are still missing following a huge explosion at the Rheinmetall Denel Munition depot in Somerset West near Cape Town.
City of Cape Town fire chief Theo Layne confirmed eight people had now been declared dead in the explosion which occurred on Monday afternoon. Initial reports were that four people had died and six others were missing
Layne said: “Fire and Rescue responded at 15:45. On arrival, it was ascertained that an explosion had occurred and staff of the factory was extinguishing the subsequent fire.
According to Layne, the cause of the explosion has not yet been ascertained and 15 firefighters and three fire engines are in attendance at the incident.
South Africa’s state-owned arms manufacturer Denel has a 49% stake in Rheinmetall Denel Munition (Pty) Ltd.
Meanwhile, the African National Congress in the Western Cape sent condolences to the families of the people who died.
“ANC WCape sends its support to the families of the confirmed eight people who have died after the explosion at the Denel munitions plant in Somerset West and those who have been injured. We continue to monitor the situation through our councillor on the ground and we hope there will be no more deaths,” the party said.
“We commend the swift response of the Fire and Rescue team and this has gone a long way in minimising the impact of the explosion. At this stage, the cause of the explosion is still unknown. We continue to monitor the situation as it develops.”
Democratic Alliance public enterprises spokesperson Natasha Mazzone, also sent condolences to the people who died and wished those injured a speedy recovery.
“It is vital that the relevant authorities urgently conduct a full and thorough investigation into the cause of the blast. We commend the efforts of the City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Service and trust that they will continue working tirelessly to ensure that all the people reported missing are recovered,” she said.
“The DA will continue to monitor the situation as well as the progress in the investigation into this tragic incident.”