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#DurbanBomb: Terror in a 'Get Well' card

Crime & Courts
Durban - On Friday night three members of a Durban family - Zakaria, 22, Maseeha, 20, and Sara-bibi, 70, Khan - remained critically injured in hospital after a parcel bomb exploded in their mansion in the upmarket suburb of the Berea.

The bomb was one of two delivered with a pot plant and a “Get Well” card to the family’s home on Stephen Dlamini Road (formerly Essenwood Road).

A family spokesperson, Nawshaadh Khan, confirmed that a second bomb had been found in the flowering plant. It was detonated by the bomb squad.

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Police and emergency services arrive at the home of the Khan family on the Berea, where two bombs were delivered hidden in a ‘Get Well’ gift at lunchtime on Friday. Picture: Leon Lestrade

Describing the family as “traumatised”, Nawshaadh said his aunt, Sara-bibi, had a broken leg and lacerations, his nephew’s wife, Maseeha, had lacerations, and his nephew, Zakaria, had lost his thumb and two fingers.

A traumatised Saleem Khan is comforted by family and friends at the scene. Picture: Leon Lestrade

“Zakaria remains in a very critical condition. It has been terrible. Police found a second bomb in the pot plant,” he said.

It is believed the first bomb was in the package in which the plant was delivered, with the explosion rocking the neighbourhood. Shocked neighbours said the bang was followed by loud screams.

At the scene, the head of the family, Saleem Khan, told members of the media that he had rushed his son, daughter-in-law and mother to hospital after the explosion.

Pale and clearly distraught, Khan appeared briefly outside the mansion dressed in a blue hospital gown, where he confirmed all three family members were in a critical condition.

He said: “I was on this road driving home when the explosion took place.”

Police and emergency services arrive at the home of the Khan family on the Berea, where two bombs were delivered hidden in a ‘Get Well’ gift. Picture: Leon Lestrade

He was hurried away by family members as a huge crowd of neighbours and onlookers gathered in the street, which had been closed by police.

The bomb exploded just after midday. A member of staff at the home, Yaseen Alie, said he rushed into the house when he heard the explosion.

“I heard everybody screaming and when I ran inside, there was smoke everywhere and blood. I helped to carry the family members out to the car.”

Another staff member, who did not want to be named, said a vehicle had arrived at the property and flowers in a box had been delivered. “The son of the boss brought in the flowers and took them into the lounge. That’s when it happened.

“There was so much black smoke everywhere. I am feeling so shocked,” she said.

The staff said Saleem Khan had recently been ill, but had recovered.

The house owner, Mohammed Hussein Hassam, who had rushed to the property when he heard about the bomb, said the house had been rented to the Khan family at the beginning of the year.

Police allowed him on to the property, but he returned to the street as the bomb disposal team moved inside.

Numerous emergency vehicles were at the scene and police closed the road until early evening.

One neighbour on the street said: “We heard a loud bang and thought it was a gunshot. Then we heard screams, but when we came outside we couldn’t see anything.”

Another neighbour, Bjorn Meehan, and his mother, Vibeke, heard the bang but ignored it.

“I was climbing up the stairs in our house and I thought it came from a nearby construction site,” he said, adding that they had both experienced the threat of bombs while living in London; Vibeke during the IRA days in the 1980s and Meehan more recently during the Islamic State threat.

“Had the incident been in London today there would have been helicopters, riot police and orders to stay indoors. This is all mild,” he said.

According to reports, the Khan family had two vehicles torched a couple of months ago.

On Friday night there was outrage on social media over the incident, with much speculation over who would carry out such violence.

On Friday evening SAPS spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala could not confirm there had been a second bomb, saying: “Berea police and the explosives unit are still busy at the scene.”

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