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Promising lives at an abrupt halt
06 September 2018

Although not officially confirmed, the people believed to be killed in the blast at Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) are Stevon Isaacs, Nico Samuels, Jason Hartzenberg, Triston Davids, Jamie Haydricks, Bradley Tandy, Mxolisi Sigadla and Thandolwethu Mankayi.

Isaacs, Samuels, Davids, Haydricks and Tandy are believed to be from Macassar, Hartzenberg from Strand and the two others from Lwandle and Mfuleni.

Five were permanently employed and the rest were casuals.

Despite numerous and tireless attempts, DistrictMail could not make contact with all the deceased’s families.

Stevon Isaacs

The 51-year-old was employed at RDM, initially as operator. This month he would have celebrated his 33rd year at the company. At the time of his death he served as team leader.

His wife, Maureen, has also been employed at the munitions factory, as an operator, for the last 20 years.

“The loss is indescribable,” she said in a quick interview with DistrictMail. “The reality has not hit home yet. I need closure.”

She described her husband, and father of her son Justin, as a dedicated employee who took pride in his precision on the job. He will be remembered as a humble and compassionate person, and avid All Black supporter.

Nico Samuels

The 41-year-old was employed by the ammunition manufacturer for 21 years and served as foreman/supervisor.

His wife, Lawrencia, described him as a loving man who lived for his work and family.

“His type is a rare find,” she said. “If you were to tell him that you do not have any clothes, he would take his off and give it to you. If you said you do not have anything to eat, he would without hesitation offer you his meal. He always put others’ needs ahead of his own.”

A testament to the person he was, she added that hundreds of people have visited their home, a stone’s throw away from his workplace, to express their heartfelt condolences.

Lawrencia said her husband was well-known in the community as well as local sporting circles. He played soccer for RDM.

She recalled being in Macassar when she heard and felt the blast.

“I knew I had to follow-up and phoned and messaged Nico numerous times on his cellphone and at work. There was no response. I checked on social media and learnt of the alleged explosion.”

Lawrencia said her husband treated her like a queen, and she will miss their togetherness.

“Nothing was ever too much for him and he was always willing and able to lend a hand. He was dependable and loyal.”

Samuel is survived by his mother Angel, wife Lawrencia and four children, aged 23, 21, 10 and eight.

Jamie Haydricks

The 24-year-old from Riverside returned to his workplace on the fateful day (Monday), after allegedly being placed on two weeks’ short time. He had been employed at RDM for about three months.

His girlfriend and mother of his two children, Lerieka George described him as a loving father. She related the two celebrating their daughter’s second birthday with an outing that included a meal shared at Spur on Sunday.

“The loss is severe and the longing even worse,” she said. “The last time I saw him was when I said goodbye on Monday morning before leaving for work.” A heartbroken George said she had been with Haydricks for eight years, but lived with him for four. Their son is six years old.

She added Haydricks was so excited about returning to work that afternoon that he left home earlier than usual. He was to start work at 16:00.

“He will be sorely missed,” George said.

Jason Hartzenberg

The 21-year-old had worked for the ammunition manufacturer for three months. He received a call on Sunday with a request to return to work on Monday after two weeks of short time.

His bereaved aunt, Marilyn Hartzenberg, who wept alongside his child’s great-grandmother, Beverley January, at the RDM entrance, where flowers were laid in tribute to the deceased, said: “I don’t know what to say to my sister-in-law [his mother] because this is so painful. He was her breadwinner and to be taken away in this way hurts. We feel empty inside.”

Hartzenberg said one of Jason’s workmates informed his mother of the incident.

January desribed him as an exemplary young man with dreams of becoming a policeman. “I loved him very much, hence the tears this morning,” she said, weeping.

He is survived by his mother, three brothers, a sister, his girlfriend and one-year-old daughter.

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