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Munitions factory blast victims to be named next week

06 September 2018 - 14:56 By Dave Chambers
Family members of Jason Hartzenberg break down outside the entrance to Rheinmetall Denel Munition.
Family members of Jason Hartzenberg break down outside the entrance to Rheinmetall Denel Munition.
Image: Esa Alexander

The Cape Town munitions factory where an estimated eight workers died in an explosion on Monday says it will not be able to name the men until next week.

A statement from Rheinmetall Denel Munition on Thursday said the names would be released after the workers’ remains had been identified “and only after consultation with the individual families who have been affected”.

CEO Norbert Schulze and his management team at the Macassar factory‚ near Somerset West‚ spent several hours with the families on Thursday‚ “to explain events in detail and to answer their questions around the incident‚ the investigation process and next steps”‚ the statement said.

Speaking to the families‚ Schulze said: ‘‘We are a company in mourning. We are a community in mourning. There is nothing more important than providing the utmost support to‚ and taking care of‚ the families involved in this heartbreaking incident. We are committed to ensuring that this community is taken care of.”

“We are providing ongoing trauma counselling and tailored support‚ not only for the families directly affected but for all of our staff.

“We are all working together to determine what happened and why. We are working night and day with the authorities to figure this out because we all want answers and we need to be able to answer these questions‚ not least for the sake of the families and our community.”

Monday’s blast‚ in one of the 400 buildings on the site‚ each with its own blast wall‚ was felt up to 30km away and sent debris and smoke hundreds of feet into the air.

Schulze said it happened while workers were mixing five types of propellant for 155mm artillery charges‚ the largest calibre in modern use.