A large explosion and fire at Rheinmetall Denel Munitions’ Somerset West facility woke many residents on Sunday night but no injuries were sustained in the incident.
Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) chief executive Jan-Patrick Helmsen said in a statement that a fire broke out at about 23:00 at the Somerset West facility’s N86 magazine building.
An explosion and fireball lit up the night sky, and was captured on traffic and surveillance cameras across the area.
RDM said the fire was extinguished by its internal fire department and the City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Service, “who reacted in line with all of our safety protocols.”
RDM said no injuries or 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.
“A thorough investigation will be conducted to determine the events leading up to the fire. We will share further information as it becomes available to us,” RDM said.
The explosion comes as the Department of Employment and Labour is conducting a public inquiry into a 2018 explosion at RDM’s Somerset West facility that killed eight workers.
Darren Olivier, Director at African Defence Review, noted that a second explosion in just three years means that serious questions need to be asked about RDM’s safety culture and protocols. “But even so I don’t believe though that there’s a need to close the facility, provided the city and other organisations do their job in enforcing regulations.”