Cape Town – The wife of a supervisor who died in the 2018 Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) explosion said she hopes to be called as a witness to clear his name.
This week, the Department of Employment and Labour appointed a Section 32 inquiry to investigate the events leading to the explosion in Somerset West which led to the deaths of eight workers and one injured staff member.
This week, the inquiry began with a list of witnesses and was expected to continue until Thursday.
The inquiry, which began on Monday, is expected to have a total of 27 witnesses, so far 11 have testified so far at the Macassar Civic Centre.
But proceedings came to a halt on Wednesday, when one of the witnesses declined to testify due to a Covid-19 scare and another said he was only available on Friday.
The inquiry has been postponed to July 5.
Lawrencia Samuels, the wife of Nico Samuels, who had been a supervisor at the plant, said she hoped she would be called as a witness.
Her husband was 41 at the time and she said his name had since been blackened.
Since the inquiry began, it emerged during testimonies that Nico had carried explosives inside his private vehicle and a lighter.
Nico had been part of the process of replacing a valve at N16 where the explosion took place.
“I am not a witness and I am not aware that I am, I will still be meeting with my legal representatives and I would like to be called as a witness to clear my husband’s name as he was innocent.
“I have always said when I visited the site after the incident took place, that I would fight to clear his name.
“He spoke prior to the incident that he told them not to replace the valve because there was nothing wrong with the old one.
“He said he tried to explain to the authorities this but that he was not heard and I said let them understand and now I want justice for my husband.”
Acting provincial communications officer, Venessa Cupido, said the commission was interested in hearing testimony from all interested parties to determine what happened.
’’Once completed, a report and recommendation will be made to the department's chief inspector who will send a report to the national prosecutions in a case of negligence,’’ said Cupido.
“The Department of Employment and Labour ordered the establishment of a Section 32 inquiry to investigate violations of occupational health and safety (OHS). The Rheinmetall Denel Munition fatal incident took place at Macassar in the Western Cape where an explosion at a munitions plant led to the deaths of eight workers and injury to one worker.
“The mandate of the commission is to hear testimony from all interested parties as to what transpired during the fatal day.
“Once the commission of inquiry has established what had happened it will compile a report and recommendations to the department’s chief inspector who in turn will hand over the report to the national prosecutions for consideration in case there was negligence.
“During this week’s evidence-gathering session a total of 13 witnesses testified before the commission chaired by Mphumzi Dyulete.
“No less than 27 witnesses are lined up to testify before the Section 32 inquiry. Interested parties in the inquiry include: the employer, employees, organised labour, family members and the Department of Employment and Labour.”