Tears and anger at memorial for Denel blast victims

07 September 2018 - 10:53 By Timeslive
Jacoba Mouton, who worked at Denel for 22 years, lays flowers in front of the munitions plant.
Jacoba Mouton, who worked at Denel for 22 years, lays flowers in front of the munitions plant.
Image: Esa Alexander

Mothers‚ fathers‚ brothers‚ sisters and children wept as the names of eight workers who perished in a massive munitions factory explosion were read out at a sombre memorial service in Cape Town.

“I pray that Denel will urgently tell the families and public the real cause of the explosion‚ and that it will avert such in future‚” said Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba in a message read to mourners at the St Joseph The Worker Anglican Church in Macassar on Thursday evening.

Makgoba‚ who was in London‚ said: “I am away‚ but my heart and soul are with them [mourners]. I will go into the chapel here as they meet and shed a tear because God will comfort me and all the families affected.”

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille was seated with the grieving families‚ facing framed photographs of their loved ones‚ in between flowers and twinkling candles.

“I could not help‚ as I was driving here tonight‚ but think that we’ve lost eight young men of our city now‚” she told mourners.

“The time has come for Denel to move away from our communities to a place far away… because the danger of living like this is not acceptable.”

She warned that next time an explosion could be far worse.

“This is not the first time that this community has had to go through a tragedy like this. I remember how I helped some of the community members with court cases… This is the second time. Denel must move. They must go‚” she said.

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan and Denel board chairperson Monhla Hlahla will visit the Rheinmetall Denel Munition complex‚ which houses around 400 buildings‚ on Friday.

An investigation continues into the cause of the explosion‚ which happened on Monday in one of the buildings housing “ignition propellant”. The substance consists of 95% nitrocellulose‚ commonly known as gun-cotton.

“It is used as an ignition material for ammunition charge systems‚” the company said in a statement earlier in the week.