RDM blast dead positively identified


Nine working days after an explosion rocked the Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) Somerset West plant an in-depth forensic investigation has revealed who the eight workers killed were.

The information will be released tomorrow (Friday, September 14) after consultation with the families concerned said RDM chief executive Norbert Schulze.

Senior RDM management, with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and acting Denel chief executive Mike Kgobe, met with families on Wednesday where further support was offered. The event was one of a series of engagements with families of those who died and the larger RDM and Somerset West communities.

With one investigation complete, others are still underway to exactly determine the cause of the blast in the propellant building. RDM is conducting its own while the SA Police Service and the Department of Labour are also investigating the blast and its cause.

Schulze said soon after the blast there was never any risk to people in the surrounding area.
“There are about 400 buildings on the Somerset West site, each designed in such a way that if there is an incident, it will not affect the surroundings. In this case blast walls ensured the pressure wave did not spread and was directed upwards.
“This is because RDM defines and calculates ‘explosive circles’ which sees buildings spaced so if an incident does occur, it cannot affect other people or buildings. The size of the circle is determined by the operations in the building. RDM adheres to national and international standards which make provision for the circle to include a maximum possible affected area. All circles are on the RDM premises, so any possible effect is limited to the perimeter of the site. Surrounding communities cannot be affected by any such incidents,” he said.