Pro-Palestine group slams Woolies attack

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IOL Kromboom Mall explosion-1352 CAPE ARGUS Contractors assess the damage after an explosion in front of Woolworths and Vee's Video in Athlone, which caused damage to the ground, shop windows and ceilings. Photo: Henk Kruger

Cape Town - A pro-Palestinian lobby group, which has protested against Woolworths for allegedly importing goods from Israel, condemned Thursday night’s bombings in Athlone and Crawford and called for the bombers to be caught.

The “Cape Town for Gaza” group on Facebook, which has more than 6 000 “Likes”, said on Thursday morning: “This must be the work of evil hands trying to spread misinformation about the cause.

“Sorry but this won’t stop the boycott, however this is ridiculous to go to this extreme and unacceptable whoever it was. Hope the perpetrators get caught.”

The sites in Athlone and Crawford were being combed for clues on Friday after a car was set on fire and a Woolworths shop window smashed - possibly after explosions just before midnight.

A VW Golf caught fire at about 11.15pm in Belgravia Road, outside Belgravia Autos, and the window of the Woolworths in Kromboom Road was smashed about 10 minutes later. The stores are a few minutes walk from each other.

Woolworths reported a large shop window had been smashed but no one had been injured.

IOL athlone Kromboom Mall explosion-1378 Three shops were damaged by an explosion on Thursday night. Picture: Henk Kruger CAPE ARGUS

There was speculation on Thursday morning about whether the explosions could have been an ATM-bombing.

A woman who lives near the car dealership said on Friday: “My neighbour is building, and it was quite loud.

“I thought maybe one of their new windows had broken,” she said, asking not to be named.

“I was frightened to go too close but I stood in my garden in my gown and saw lots of cars going to the scene.”

On Friday morning, the police would not comment on speculation that the blasts were caused by pipe bombs.

“We can confirm that two incidents of explosions occurred on Thursday just after 11pm - one in Belgravia Road, Athlone - and the other one at the corner of Jan Smuts and Kromboom roads,” spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said.

One was a motor dealership and the other was a small business centre.

“Cases of malicious damage to property were opened for investigation but there are no arrests as yet,” he said.

Van Wyk said there were no reports of injuries or fatalities. No further details were provided.

A projectile-like bomb was allegedly placed in front of Vee’s Video, next to Woolworths.

Vee’s Video store manager Grantham Wolhuter said he was surprised when he got the call telling him about the explosion.

“Apparently the blast happened at 11.26 last night.

“It’s shocking; you don’t expect to hear that a bomb has gone off.”

He added it was impossible to say why the store was targeted.

“There have been several protests at the centre, with people boycotting Woolies, so maybe that is why.”

The blast tore through the front window of the store. It also shattered windows of the next door shop.

A 60-year-old Crawford resident said he had heard three “loud sounds” on Thursday night.

“We wondered whether it was perhaps shooting.

“We all think it’s connected to Woolworths, because of the boycott.”

He added that boycotts should be peaceful.

“There must be militant elements doing this because the auto dealership was also bombed.”

In mid-August last year, the auto dealership was fire bombed on a Sunday night - the second dealership in the area to come under attack in three weeks.

Two cars at Auto Belgravia in Belgravia Road, one of which was a rare, imported 1997 Volvo S90, were damaged in the fire on Thursday night.

The damage was most severe on the front bumper and engine area of the vehicles. A third vehicle was slightly damaged in the bombing.

Recently there have been pickets over Woolworths’s alleged position on Israeli imports.

On Friday, on Facebook, the group “Cape Town for Gaza” posted the following message: “Urgent! With the current confusion relating to the bombing at the Fellos / Woolworths Kromboom store, everyone is advised to remain vigilant and not get involved in finger pointing and sympathy giving.

“We know throughout history, when those with truth make serious advances on the imperialist, they either use divide and conquer methods to create discord amongst those making advances on them, or they play victim to gain sympathy from the masses and point those with truth as aggressors.

“Given that, it could be the imperialist themselves who have pulled this stunt. (which many claim to be very likely).

“Or, the source could be organised crime who saw the opportunity to allow their crime to be blamed on the boycott force who’ve been challenging WW Kromboom regularly since the escalated aggression started.

“Let us wait for evidence but continue to commit to the cause.

“Long live the Intifadha,” the group wrote.

Cape Argus



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