Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) has started construction of a R10 million daycare centre for its staff, at a site next to the company’s Somerset West facility.
A sod-turning ceremony was held in Macassar on 21 June and attended by RDM MD Norbert Schulze, the German Consul Roland Seidler, the Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises Phumulo Masualle, the CEO of Denel Danie du Toit and children from the community. Other guests included representatives of unions, the advisor to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Tshepe Motumi, Denel Board member Ishmail Dockrat and Human Rights Commissioner Chris Nissan.
In late May RDM began clearing the site, which is being donated along with the R10 million building. The daycare centre will be situated just across the road from RDM’s Somerset West site.
“We have asked the very children who will make use of this daycare centre to help us build it today, because they are symbolic of how we can build this country – starting from very young, always working together,” said Schulze. “We want to cater for the children of the Macassar community and our staff’s children.”
On completion, the daycare centre will accommodate 150 children – from infants to Grade R learners. The facility will have two nursery areas and six individual classrooms, and will cover 1 000 square metres, with an enclosed playground of 400 square metres. It will also have a kitchen and a sick-bay. The school will create at least 24 permanent jobs once it is fully operational.
“In late 2016, we started the first step: applying for municipal rezoning of Industrial 1 land opposite our Somerset West site to Community 1 land – a process that took as long as 18 months,” explained Schulze. Once the rezoning was finalised, plans were drawn up and submitted for municipal approval. Plan approval was received in October 2018, which allowed for tenders to be finalised, and the building contract was signed in May 2019.
The daycare centre, once completed, will be registered as a public benefit organisation and an Early Educational Development Centre. It will not be run by RDM, but will be managed by the principal and controlled by a Governance Board chosen/selected from among the parents. It is envisioned that the school will officially open its doors in April 2020.
“This is great news for the Macassar community and our staff, who will have a safe place for their children during the day. At the same time, this has allowed RDM to assist a small business to be established, and to provide a safe learning environment for the community’s children. It’s a win-win all round,” Schulze concluded.
In 2016 RDM started an initiative to reach out to the children and community of Macassar by asking staff to donate non-perishable food items, blankets and numerous cash contributions for the surrounding daycare centres, old-age homes and other community projects. This sparked the idea of supplying the community, and RDM’s staff, with a permanent daycare centre.
In October 2018 the municipality approved the plans and the tender process started. This concluded in April this year and a building contractor was selected in May, with site clearance in May/June.