Durban - A man scavenging for goods left outside the driveway of a Yellowwood Park home of an evicted tenant got the fright of his life on Thursday when he came across a live mortar bomb.
He panicked, threw it near a palm tree on the verge before alerting a resident, James Morley, a former soldier.
Morley called the police and the bomb squad arrived, performing a controlled detonation after deciding it was too dangerous to take the shell away.
The shell was among household goods left outside the Sunbird Avenue home on Monday by the sheriff of the court, who had evicted the tenant last week.
But Sandile Nsibande, who was evicted on Friday, said a previous tenant had left the mortar shell in the garage.
Morley said many tenants had lived in the house over the years.
“Since Monday, people had been scavenging and made a mess of the place. This guy calls me to show me what he found. It looks like a toy if one does not know about bombs.”
Morley contacted the police and when the bomb squad arrived they told neighbours to stay indoors and close their curtains as a precaution. They cordoned off the road and dispersed bystanders.
Yellowwood Park and Woodhaven Sector Policing Forum chairman Chris van den Berg said he was not sure where the bomb had come from. He said the mortar’s cap had been removed, but the pin was in place.
“An explosives police dog checked the area and found it to be clear of any other threats.
“The bomb disposal team decided that the mortar was not stable enough to transport so they conducted a controlled detonation.”
Van den Berg said the explosion could be heard throughout Yellowwood Park.
“Congratulations need to be given to the police officers for conducting a safe and well-orchestrated operation to deal with the bomb found.
“It is concerning that in this day and age a live bomb was in the hands of civilians, tampered with and just left on the side of the road.
“How many children handled this bomb before it was destroyed?”
Nsibande said he found the bomb in the garage when he moved in three years ago. He had also found two shotgun shells.
Nsibande at first thought the mortar shell was a grenade because of the pin.
He said that when he was moving out he left the previous tenant’s stuff in the garage.
The sheriff had tossed the items outside the driveway gate and left, he said.
“I used Google Search to gather more information about grenades and their shapes. I could not see this particular shape on the internet so I did not think much off it.
“My 14-year-old nephew pulled out the pin once, but it did not explode.”
Nsibande said a friend had informed him on Thursday that a bomb had gone off at his previous home.
Fearing the worst, he took a taxi from central Durban to get there, thinking the house had been blown up.
Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane said a report about the incident had been made at the Montclair police station.