Following the recent bomb scares in and around Woolworths stores in Durban, the giant retailer announced that it would be conducting searches on their customers.. Picture: Nabeelah Shaikh

DURBAN - The KwaZulu-Natal top cop has spoken, police officers must abide and be searched at Woolworths stores in the province amid threats at the store with incendiary devices in recent weeks.

The province’s top cop said police officers in uniform should not be shopping in the first place, and has called on commanders to enforce police orders.

Police officers had bemoaned that they had to be searched at local stores amid a policy by the store that all customers be searched before entering the store.

One police officer described the searching of officers as “totally unacceptable”.

In a Daily News article published on Wednesday, national police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said when asked about police being searched at the Woolies stores: “If this is happening, I’m saying it shouldn’t happen - not in a public area. If they want to insist on the police officer being searched, the police officer can refuse”.

South African Police officers who normally do the searching are objecting to them being searched before they enter Woolworths stores. The stores have been on high alert after a spate of bomb threats.

However, KZN’s top cop, acting provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi said on Thursday that he supported the security measures in place at Woolworths and said police officers - even in uniform - must be searched.

“These searches are necessary to mitigate the risk posed to shoppers who visit these stores and we shall support such compulsory measures. Police officers who visit these stores as clients of Woolworths should be subject to the same procedures reserved for all customers, whether they are in uniform or not,” said Mkhwanazi.

Mkhwanazi said police officers should not be shopping while in uniform in the first place.

“The SAPS dress orders and other directives specifically prohibits police officers from shopping whilst in uniform, whether they are on or off duty and commanders at all level are compelled to enforce these orders,” he said.