Explosive devices a sign of what’s to come?
Durban - The recent spate of explosive devices found around Durban could be the start of what’s to come.
This was the view of two intelligence experts, who said the incidents were being viewed as “trials” to see how police and the public respond - the perpetrators were sending out a discreet message.
Several suspicious incendiary devices were found around Durban in the past two weeks.
Police are expected to make arrests soon. Suspects have been identified, allegedly staying at houses in Verulam and on the Bluff.
A national team from the Hawks Crimes Against the State unit have been in Durban over the past few days, investigating.
Hawks national spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi called for calm, but said the public should remain vigilant at all times.
“We are working around the clock to arrest suspects and these incidents are receiving serious attention,” said Mulaudzi.
Explosive devices were found in Woolworths stores at Gateway and Pavilion malls last week. While Durban July festivities were taking place, pipe bombs were detonated near cars parked on Gladys Mazibuko and Avondale roads.
This week, a suspicious device was reported in a parking lot at the Pavilion, but it turned out to be a hoax. On Monday night another explosive device was found at a Spar store in Wentworth. There were also hoax reports of bombs at the Cornubia Mall and Phoenix police station on Thursday.
Willem Els, an expert in crime scene handling and bomb disposal at the Institute of Security Studies, said the improvised explosive devices were designed to detonate and were not made in a factory.
“This is the preferred choice for extremist groups such as al-Shabaab and Islamic State, so we cannot root out the possibility of extremism,” said Els.
Another possibility was that a group of people or an individual could be holding the event or business affected to ransom, he said.
“We have heard of threats being made against certain businesses or organisations where those making the threats would claim they planned to use an explosive device if money was not handed to them.”
He said the string of devices that were found also raised questions about why authorities had not acted sooner when an explosive device was found at the Imam Hussain Mosque more than two months ago.
State Security spokesperson Brian Dube said the series of explosive threats was receiving attention and a multidisciplinary task team had been appointed to look into the problem.
“Law enforcement agencies have noted the incidents with concern. The motive and intent behind this, as well as the identification of those responsible for the acts, form part of our ongoing investigations,” said Dube.
He also called on the public to remain calm but vigilant.
“I am confident we will make a breakthrough soon. The case is at a sensitive stage.”