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Denel management defends safety standards after deadly blast

A blast ripped through the Rheinmetall Denel munitions facility in Macassar on Monday, killing several employees.

Traffic and police officers direct emergency vehicles into the Rheinmetall Denel munitions facility in Macassar, Cape Town, after an explosion at the facility killed at least 8 people and injured more, on 3 September, 2018. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - Managers of an explosives manufacturing plant where eight workers died insist their safety measures are adequate.

A blast ripped through the Rheinmetall Denel munitions facility in Macassar on Monday, killing several employees.

WATCH: Cause of Denel explosion remains unknown

Arms manufacturer Denel is a 49% strategic partner to Rheinmetall, a company of German origin. The two companies are run independently of each other, with different boards and management structures.

Officials, including State Security Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba and others visited the depot on Tuesday.

The cause of the blast is now the subject of a high-level probe.

CEO Norbert Schulze has defended the plant's safety rules and record.

“Our safety procedures are really at the top and they’re monitored by outside people, as well as by our internal health and safety department. We’re training our people thoroughly and we have scheduled checks of the safety standards run throughout this company.”

But this will come as cold comfort to the families of the blast victims. They're demanding answers.

A sombre mood prevailed outside the main entrance of the plant, where residents sang hymns while laying down flowers against a perimeter wall on Tuesday.

Jason Hartzenberg, aged 21, worked at the facility for the last three months. He was called on Sunday evening to report for duty on Monday.

His brothers, Enrico and Cheslyn Hartzenberg, say they don't know how they are going to cope without him.

“It’s hard, it’s very difficult. He has a one-year-old daughter and a girlfriend. It’s hard us to deal with this.”

Meanwhile, forensic experts have begun picking apart the explosion site. They say the entire unit where propellant mixing takes place has collapsed as a result of the blast's intensity.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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