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Denel explosion victims' families await probe results before deciding next move

A widow said the families were now waiting for the outcome of the Labour Department and police investigations before deciding on what to do next.

FILE: Police vehicles at 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 – The family of a worker killed in an explosion at a Denel facility said it would await the outcome of two external probes into the tragedy.

Eight employees were killed in the blast at the arms manufacturer’s Somerset West site in September 2018.

Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) recently released the findings of its internal probe.

More than a year after the explosion, experts found the cause to be a combination of human error and an electrostatic electricity risk.

It was found that a component in the propellant mixing process did not meet the required quality standards.

The RDM probe found workers tried to compensate for this by adding extra graphite to the propellant mixture.

RDM CEO Jan-Patrick Helmsen said that this, coupled with the electrostatic electricity build-up, ignited the mixture.

"Investigators believe this would have been highly unlikely for the deceased to foresee."

Lawrencia Samuels, the widow of Nico Samuels who died in the ensuing blast, said the families were now waiting for the outcome of the Labour Department and police investigations before deciding on what to do next.

RDM said the factory had been declared safe.