Boy had ‘bomb’ message

A black plastic bag was found by the bomb squad in this Wentworth Spar following a bomb threat on July 9, 2018.
A black plastic bag was found by the bomb squad in this Wentworth Spar following a bomb threat on July 9, 2018.
Image: Jeff Wicks

The people who planted a suspicious device inside the SPAR in Durban’s Wentworth suburb on Monday demanded a ransom – and used a 10-year-old boy to deliver a chilling message that there was a bomb somewhere in the busy shop.

Well-placed police sources‚ who did not want to be named‚ said the boy had been sent to the shop by persons unknown.

The child had given the manager on duty a brown envelope containing a bullet and a handwritten letter with instructions to place money in a bag and leave it outside the shop and not to call the police.

If the manager failed to do this‚ the letter said‚ the bomb in the store would explode.

It is understood that the store manager had taken the boy and the letter to the Wentworth police station‚ prompting police to descend on the store and clear it of customers.

The police’s explosives unit was then called in and, guided by a search dog‚ found a black plastic bag near the tills.

The parcel was destroyed in a controlled detonation.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said the suspicious device had proved to be negative.

The device is the sixth discovered at malls and parked cars in the past five days.

At the weekend‚ two devices planted beneath parked cars on the fringes of the Vodacom Durban July were triggered‚ causing minor fires.

On Thursday last week, two similar devices‚ one planted in the Gateway mall and the other in the Pavilion‚ were detonated‚ causing fires.

The Gateway mall was evacuated again on Saturday when a pipe bomb was found and later defused by bomb technicians.

The DA in KwaZulu-Natal has requested an urgent meeting with the head of the police’s crime intelligence unit over the security scares in the province.

DA provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango said the reports of suspicious devices found in and around shopping malls in Durban should be of concern to all in South Africa.

“These incidents‚ along with the mosque attack in May this year‚ raise questions about the state of our intelligence and the safety of the people of KwaZulu-Natal,” Mncwango said .

The Hawks’ Crimes Against the State (CATS) has taken charge of the investigation.