DURBAN, July 12 – Two stores in the Durban area were on the receiving end of bomb hoaxes on Thursday, increasing tensions amongst residents following the discovery of several incendiary devices over the last week.
The Cornubia Mall, situated about six kilometres inland of UMhlanga, was evacuated at about 10am after a bomb threat was made at one of its retailers, understood to be Woolworths.
Mall management said it evacuated shoppers in the interests of safety.
South African Police Services and the bomb and dog squads were called in to sweep the 85,000 m² mall before giving the all clear.
“There was no bomb found at the Mall and it appears to have been a hoax. The evacuation procedure is now over. We would like to thank SAPS for their fast, professional service,” said the mall via its Twitter feed.
At about the same time, another bomb threat was reported at the Commercial City building in the city centre. It is believed that the threat was made via phone to a college – where exams are currently being written – situated in the building.
The 23-storey building was evacuated and the bomb squad swept the building, with the threat again proving to be negative.
The discovery of incendiary devices started on 5 July, with one each found in Woolworths stores in Gateway Mall and Pavilion, just hours apart.
On 7 July, another device was again found at Woolworths Gateway, and another two were found beneath two separate vehicles a few minutes walk away from the Greyville Racecourse, where the Durban July was being hosted.
According to police, who have repeatedly called for calm, the unsophisticated devices were not constructed to explode, but to catch alight.
On 9 July, the Pavilion shopping centre was evacuated after what was thought to be an incendiary device was spotted. This was revealed to be a clothing security tag.
On the night of 9 July, a Spar supermarket in Wentworth reported a bomb threat. This incident did not appear to follow the same modus operandi as the others as it involved blackmail.
A young boy was sent into the supermarket and handed the manager an envelope, allegedly given to him by an unknown man, containing a letter and a live bullet.
The letter in the envelope instructed the manager to place an undisclosed amount of cash outside the store and to refrain from calling police. The manager, however, took the child and the envelope to the nearby police station. The store was evacuated and cordoned off.
A “black plastic packet” was found at the entrance near the tills and was subject to a controlled detonation by the bomb squad. However, police said the packet had not contained a bomb. (ANA)