Analysing Public Safety In Light Of The Recent Woolworths Bombings
The current situation in KZN in terms of six explosive devices being found and/or detonated is worrisome and creating fear as well as tense feelings and emotions. It is reported that the Hawks Crimes Against The State unit is investigating and giving the investigation the highest priority. No arrests have been facilitated with remarks by authorities that arrests are imminent.
The crime Intelligence Units in KZN have been instructed to gather information urgently.
ANALYSIS AND SCENARIOS
It needs to be acknowledged that access to bomb making is easy and that caution needs to be exercised to jump to conclusions related to terrorism or any specific extremist grouping. The devices are relatively amateurish in design and construction and lacking means to cause substantial damage. Muslim leaders are specifically requesting urgent answers and feedback from Parliament as well as investigating authorities.
Talking to SAPS members in the various specialized units, we are given to understand that these six bomb devices were made to detonate and trigger mini explosions which in turn will start fires as these devices were strategically placed. Our opinion that these bomb makers are should not be classified as amateurs as they want the police and other law enforcement agencies to think that. There is a cell-phone attached to the device and is triggered once that phone receives a call. The same principal can be utilized to make life threatening bombs.
As specialist in security risk management we find it relevant to consider the following scenarios:
Word on the street is that the first bomb device that was activated at the Woolworths Store at the Gateway Mall, Umhlanga, Durban in the men’s clothing department was because of the Israel and Palestine conflict and that Jews (Israel) own the Woolworths Stores.
- There is an absence of any firm evidence of political aims or ideological motivation and justification related to the incidents. There is very low probability of any specific extremist group or terrorist group being involved. No specific claims of responsibility were issued.
- There is presence of extremist behaviour to draw attention, intimidate and create fear. It needs to be noted that there is currently a noticeable increase in the use of extremist behaviour (like explosive devices in CIT heists and ATM bombings) to create fear, draw attention and demonstrate capabilities). In terms of modus operandi there are some similarities in terms of the devices and thus far targets have been shopping centres as well as possibly a social event. The positioning and timing as well as the quick manner in which the devices were positioned in different locations could be an indication that more than one person is involved.
- The Wentworth Spar reportedly included a 10 year old boy being used to deliver a message about a bomb being hidden in the store. The message was contained in a brown envelope according to reports and included a bullet as well as a handwritten letter. A black plastic bag was found near the tills in the store and destroyed by controlled detonation. There is an opinion that this specific incident could have been the work of opportunistic individuals riding the wave of the other current incidents and seeking an opportunity to make quick money out of ransom claims.
- Analysts are also of the opinion that there could be possible links to the Verulam Mosqueincident of throats being slit during an attack and an undetonated device being found at the scene. There are reportedly similarities between the device and other devices being used in current incidents. This specifically is worrisome in the light of current sectarian tensions escalating in anti-Shia rhetoric in certain Muslim communities in South Africa. This relates closely to Muslim leaders being desperate for progress reports from the authorities.
The above synopsis and analysis leaves us with the following conclusions
- Incidents could be related to criminals with criminal intent
- Incidents could be related to individuals testing their bomb making skills and preparing for something bigger.
- Incidents related to individuals or groups wanting to voice frustrations or show capabilities
- Incidents could be related to underlying sectarian tensions in the Muslim community which is currently an underlying threat in South African Muslim communities
The broader perspective is that we are challenged with a very worrisome situation that can escalate and create further opportunities to create fear, intimidate and cause damage to property and even loss of lives. Therefor the current tension in the area and calls for imminent arrests.
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