Authorities probe ‘bomb’ devices found in Durban

The device which was found in Woolworths at Gateway on Saturday.

Police are urging the community to remain calm after the discovery of numerous improvised incendiary devices around KwaZulu-Natal in recent days. Devices were discovered in the Woolworths stores at Gateway Theatre of Shopping and the Pavilion, last Thursday.

Another device was planted at the Gateway Woolworths on Saturday and two more were discovered in the vicinity of the Vodacom Durban July.

Brig Vishnu Naidoo of the SAPS said, “The devices discovered across Durban are improvised devices intended to ignite a fire. They lack the capacity and capability to explode. The community is asked to remain calm as fear and panic will only serve to do harm. We are working tirelessly to find and apprehend those responsible.”

ALSO READ: VIDEO: Todd Street residents evacuated from homes following bomb scare

On Thursday, at about 12:30pm, the device ignited in the menswear section at the Gateway store causing damage to the store before being extinguished by the sprinkler system.

The store was evacuated and closed while the SAPS were called in. The Explosives Unit examined the device and removed it from the premises.

This came after the SAPS removed the incendiary device that ignited at the Pavilion at 1:30am that morning. The unit was called to return on Saturday after receiving reports of a second device at the store.

Police spokesman, Lt Col Thulani Zwane, said the devices in both incidents were removed by cops.

“A Woolworths store situated at the Pavilion Shopping Mall had caught alight at 1.30am on Thursday. The Explosive Unit found a suspected device looking like a cellphone. After receiving information about a similar incident at the Woolworths in Gateway, police investigated and found a torch-like device with a cellphone attached. The devices were taken away by our Explosive Unit for further investigation. A case in terms of the Explosive Act has been opened at Durban North SAPS for further investigation.”

Michelle Shelley, spokesman for Gateway, said, “The Gateway Theatre of Shopping confirms that an incendiary device was found in a store. Authorities as well as the centre operations team were immediately called in to assist with the matter. As a precautionary measure, the store was evacuated as the safety of our shoppers and staff are of the utmost importance to Gateway.”

ALSO READ: Bomb scare hoax disrupts school exams at Foresthaven Secondary

Woolworths spokesman, Kirsten Hewett, confirmed that suspicious devices were found at the store.

“As a precautionary measure, we immediately evacuated the store in order to ensure the safety of our people and our customers. Authorities were called in to investigate and assist with the matter. We can assure the public that we take these incidents in KwaZulu-Natal incredibly seriously and we are doing all that we can to ensure the safety of our people and our customers. Due to the sensitivity of the investigation, we are unable to divulge the additional protection and detection measures we have put in place in our stores. We continue to work closely with the relevant authorities who are providing input and guidance,” said Hewett.

No arrests have been yet and no injuries were reported during the incidents.

The stores resumed normal operation after the removal of the devices.

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  AUTHOR
Avinash Singh

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