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AN MUNITIONS firm which produces the illumination grenades that were brazenly stolen yesterday has claimed that their transportation is fully legal and satisfied all safety criteria.
The 70 illumination grenades, produced and delivered by Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM), were being delivered to the Wallmansthal military base when they were stolen while the drivers of the bakkie were sleeping at a filling station.
They woke up to find four boxes of ammunition missing.
The ammunition was being transported in the bin of a bakkie which had not been fitted with a canopy or anything to protect the case from any external interference.
This raised questions about whether the van was suitable to transport such flammable materials, uncovered, over a distance of about 1 500 km.
“From what we understand, the driver was at the station when he saw several assailants robbing a truck in front of him,” RDM CEO Norbert Schulze said.
“After robbing that truck, those assailants then came to them (the driver and his assistant) and forcefully gained entry in the security-tight bakkie.
“They then fled with the goods.”
The thieves fled with two boxes containing 35 devices each, while two others boxes were recovered by police in a bush behind the filling station.
It is also believed they stole boxes of soap from a truck that had stopped at a filling station while the driver was resting.
Trucks and bakkies that stop at the filling station are known to be vulnerable to thieves as the drivers are usually asleep when they strike.
Schulze said these were not conventional hand grenades.
“These (pyrotechnic) grenades simply illuminate when ignited and do not cause explosions like other grenades.”
The worst they could do was to burn someone who did not handle the grenade correctly.
Schulze defended the way the ammunition was transported. He said the vehicle was generally approved and accepted for this purpose.
“The requirement is that the case containing these must be chained or mounted on to the van, which was done with the case that was broken into during the incident,” said Schulze.
“RDM is working with the SAPS and the Military Police who are investigating the incident and has also launched an internal investigation to determine the circumstances around the incident,” said Schulze.
Police spokesman Lungelo Dlamini could not be reached to confirm whether police had made any arrests related to the incident or whether any more devices had been recovered.