Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)

Duban -  South Africa’s largest clothing and food retailer Woolworths spoke out for the first time on Saturday about the recent bomb threats at its shops, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, saying that it had beefed up security as the safety of people remains its primary concern.

This as the retailer has become the target of bomb threats over suspicious devices found either in its aisles or storerooms. The source is yet to be identified.

As recently as Thursday, the police bomb disposal unit was called in to search a Woolworths shop in the Durban city centre for evidence of another "bomb" after a staff member at the shop found a suspicious device. Two other shops, in the Gateway and Pavillion shopping malls, have been victims of similar incidents over the past two weeks.

Kay Raidoo, Woolworths head of divisions, said that "following the recent security incidents in and around Durban, particularly within three of our stores, I want to offer you my assurance that your safety and the safety of our people remains our primary concern". 

"At this stage the motive behind these incidents is unclear and the investigation is ongoing. We continue to work closely with the relevant authorities, including the South African Police Service, the Hawks' crimes against [the] state unit, local and national government, as well as our own investigators who are providing input and guidance," Naidoo said in a statement.
  
"You will, however, now notice that additional uniformed security guards have been placed in all our KZN stores. We have also instituted a new search process which is for your safety and protection."  

Naidoo said Woolworths realised that the extra security measures may cause some inconvenience as all shops were open for trading, but "we are trying our best to minimise any disruption to your shopping experience".  

African News Agency/ANA