Another explosion rocks Denel ammunition plant, no injuries reported

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An explosion has been reported at the Rheinmetall Denel Munition in the Western Cape.
An explosion has been reported at the Rheinmetall Denel Munition in the Western Cape.
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  • An explosion has been reported at the Rheinmetall Denel Munition in Somerset West. 
  • No injuries have been reported.
  • In 2018, eight people died in an explosion at the same site.

An explosion rocked the Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) in Somerset West in the Western Cape on Sunday night.  

RDM chief executive Jan-Patrick Helmsen said the fire broke out about 23:00. 

"The fire was contained to the N86 magazine building and was extinguished by our internal fire department and the City of Cape Town's fire services." 

He said no casualties were reported. 

"The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. However, police are currently on the scene and we are working closely with them."

Helmsen said a "thorough investigation" would be conducted.  

Local ANC councillor Rhoda Baizer said she went to the scene as soon as she heard about the incident. 

She said:

Fortunately, it was a small explosion and from the information we got, there were no fatalities. It might have been a small explosion but all explosions are dangerous to the community,

Baizer added that she was unable to get into the plant but was at the scene until the early hours of Monday.

The cause of the explosion is being investigated, she said. 

"We just want to make sure that people are safe and right now; the factory is not safe. We want the company to prioritise the safety of workers," she added.

READ | Denel explosion: Calls grow for shutdown of Western Cape ammunition factor

On Friday, Baizer, trade union Cosatu and members of the community protested outside the factory to demand its closure over worker safety concerns.

DA councillor Peter Helfrich said the accident at the plant was "untenable".

He said:

Many residents feel it is no longer safe for Denel to be based in Macassar. Many residents in Macassar have called me and asked [if] we [can] find a way to get Rheinmetall Denel Munition to move their plant out of the Macassar area.

He said the plant was too dangerous to be in a residential area. 

People took to Twitter after the blast on Sunday night.

Others posted video footage.

The blast follows a similar incident in 2018 which claimed the lives of eight people at the same site. 

A public inquiry is currently under way to determine what happened during the 2018 accident

Sunday's blast comes as Sam & Nicholas Attorneys, the legal representatives of the families of workers who died in the 2018 blast, sent a letter to the Department of Labour and Employment last week to demand the suspension of explosives licences issued to RDM.

The letter states that if the factory's licence is not suspended, they will report the department and RDM to the SA Human Rights Commission. 

The public inquiry into the fatal blast wrapped up in Salt River, Cape Town.

On the last day of the inquiry, witness Stephen Lapage, a civil engineer and specialist in structural engineering commissioned by the department, testified that the design of the building did not meet industry standards for explosives manufacturing, mixing and/or blending.

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