RDM blast investigations still underway

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The September 4 explosion and tragic loss of life at Rheinmetall Denel Munition’s (RDM) Somerset West plant is still the subject of exhaustive investigation while the company continues to operate, servicing clients as best it can under difficult circumstances.

That’s the word from chief executive Norbert Schulze who told defenceWeb the company continues operations at the blast-affected Western Cape plant as well as plants at other locations in South Africa and elsewhere.
“At this time, we do not expect significant negative effects on future product portfolio offerings and delivery times. Customers whose current orders are affected have been individually informed,” he said adding “there will be an impact on certain products for a limited time”.

These Schulze said, would be assessed on a case-by-case basis and again, customers would be timeously informed where necessary.

All three investigations into the cause of the September 3 explosion, believed to have been gun cotton, are still underway.
“RDM’s own investigation, with external support, is ongoing and we await the outcome of investigations by the SA Police Service and the Department of Labour. We will share information and be transparent about all findings as soon as final results are available,” he said.

With investigative and forensic work still underway at the blast site it is very much “off limits” as far as cleaning up and rebuilding is concerned.

This was confirmed by Schulze who said “no rebuilding can start before RDM is allowed access to the site and that will only be once all investigations are completed”.

Eight RDM employees later identified as plant supervisor Nico Angelo Samuels, team leader Stevon Robert Isaacs, team leader Mxolosi Sigadla and operators Bradley Tandy, Jamie Lesley Haydricks, Jason Hartzenberg, Triston Lance Davids and Thandolwethu Mankayi, died in the explosion.

A memorial service was held at the RDM Somerset West site on September 20.