RDM explosion report will not be a public document


The final report of a Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) investigation into an explosion at a Rheinmetall Denel Munition Western Cape plant in 2018 will not be a public document.

The report and its outcomes will, however, be shared with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the DEL’s chief inspector.

Eight people died in the explosion with the Weekend Argus reporting their families are expected to “meet soon” to discuss what to do next.

The DEL ran an investigation into the explosion alongside an internal RDM one with 26 witnesses testifying at the government department’s investigation. They included technical experts, former employers, current staff and what the Weekend Argus called “investigators” without specifying any discipline. It also reports there is no testimony from former RDM chief executive Norbert Schulze as efforts to “locate” him proved unsuccessful.

The widow of an RDM employee who died in the explosion told the newspaper she and others were “made aware” the report would be ready by mid-June.

“We were informed it would only be done in July and would not be made public, we would have to apply and request a report.

“All of us as families are waiting for a time we can get together talk and what we can expect and what will happen.

“As families we discussed our anticipation and time has weighed on us and we expected it by June and now we are hearing July. We are anxious and stressed.”

CEO of RDM Jan-Patrick Helmsen told defenceWeb that the decision not to share the report on its findings following the public inquiry have been communicated by the DEL, and had been indicated by the presiding officer during the inquiry itself. This is entirely separate from the RDM internal investigation findings, which were shared with the families by RDM at the earliest opportunity, he elaborated.

“As we have done throughout this process and since the tragic events which claimed the lives of eight of our employees in 2018, we will continue to co-operate with the DEL and other authorities in respect of their investigations, but the decision on the sharing of those findings is entirely out of the purview of RDM. It seems, from the information shared by the DEL, that there is no intention by the DEL to share the report with RDM, as the employer, either.

“To date, as far as RDM has been able to determine, the report has not yet been finalised by the presiding officer.”

He added that, “this has been a very long process which has been very difficult for the families who lost loved ones and who are seeking answers and closure so we understand that many of them may find the news that the report will not be made public, frustrating. RDM has made counselling services available to families since the incident took place in 2018, and throughout the hearing process. These services remain available for any family members who may require them.”