The specialised policing unit, Hawks, has upped the ante in their investigations into the recent spate of bomb threats and scares around Durban hotspots. They’ve mobilized the crimes against the state (CATS) unit in the hopes of tracking down bomb manufacturers.
It seems as though the rumoured connection between the Verulam mosque attack in May and the recent surge of bomb scares have at least one thing in common; they’re both being prioritised by the CATS specialized task team.
Last week a total of five explosive devices were discovered in key locations around Durban, with arsonists targeting shopping centres and areas in the vicinity of the Durban July event.
Sources close to the Hawks are confident that the investigation will result in imminent arrests.
This is the question Durban locals and independent security experts are mulling over. None of the explosives have been targeted at individuals, but rather in areas where there is moderate to heavy foot-traffic; shopping malls and social event.
Speaking to Africa director for the Terrorism, Research and Analysis Consortium, Jasmine Opperman, who described the explosives as rudimentary, lacking quality workmanship, not what one would expect of an organised terrorist group.
Opperman went on to add: “Durban has seen extremist activity but the important question is this; if an extremist group was executing attacks, one would expect them to be far more sophisticated. This [bomb-like devices] is too rudimentary and that diverts from extremism.”
In correlation with Opperman’s analysis, the poorly constructed explosive devices have, luckily, yet to injure any civilians, with many of them remaining inoperative.
The discovery of multiple explosive devices in shopping malls across Durban is cause for grave concern. Specifically targeted malls include the Pavilion and Gateway, where Woolworths stores were closed and evacuated following the discovery of incendiary devices.
The device which detonated in the Woolworths store of Gateway mall caused damage to stock and triggered the retailer’s water sprinklers aimed at extinguishing the blaze.
Police officers who attended to the scene reported that the device was ‘not a bomb but rather an incendiary device meant to burn and not explode.’
While locals, shop owners and independent security contractors remain on high-alert following the attacks, motives for the bomb scares are still unknown. Activation of the CATS unit, as well as other specialized crime agencies, are an attempt to apprehend those responsible, before further fear, and possibly pain, is spread through the community.