Mystery of Durban bomb-planters – who reaps the aftermath?

Isn’t it strange that shoplifters can be spotted by CCTV but not potential bombers who ought to be caught on camera? asks Iqbal Jassat.

Who and why? 

These are the questions posed to determine reasons behind the mystery of explosives or bombs – or whatever these incendiary devices are technically called – suddenly appearing in Durban shopping malls.

In recent weeks, a spate of explosive devices has been planted in upmarket stores belonging to Woolworths at Gateway and Pavilion malls. Reports of suspicious pipe bombs being detonated at car parks close to the Durban July racecourse have also been doing the rounds, adding to the mystery of these forms of threats to public safety. 

It appears that this climate of fear and utterly senseless attacks have also given rise to hoax reports of bombs at more shopping centres, including police stations. Panic and insecurity seems to have overtaken Durban’s residents, shoppers and tourists. 

Who is planting them? And why?

If some so-called “terror” experts are to be believed, the spotlight is on “Islamists” as the likely culprits. No matter how offensive and derogatory the term “Islamists” may be to Muslims, it matters not to these self-made terror experts. 

Rushing to judgment despite any evidence, fingers have been pointed to al-Shabaab and Islamic State. Under the all-embracing rubric of “extremism”, a scenario is being painted to link the unknown bomb-planters to Islam.

These accusatory allegations are shamelessly made without any regard for the fact that the motive and identification of perpetrators remain unknown. Speculation is an easy and lazy science. But to continue reinforcing stereotypes of Muslims as mindless bombers, is grossly unfair, irresponsible and utterly disgraceful.

Whoever may be responsible for stoking fires at a time when intra-Muslim tensions were sparked by the attack on Verulam’s Musjid al-Hussein, appears to be playing a dangerous game. Promoting a climate of Islamophobia while ignoring the calamitous effects of the brutal murder committed in the sacred precincts of a mosque, suggests an agenda driven by sources possibly allied to foreign agents. 

What possibly could explain why the killers remain at large? Again the question remains paramount: who were the killers, what was their motive, and on more importantly, on whose behalf were they acting?

Is there a link between the heinous crimes committed at Verulam and the current spate of explosive devices found at Durban’s shopping malls? Or is it a case of unknown bomb-planters exploiting the tragedy to create a link? 

What puzzles me is that notwithstanding the sophisticated surveillance systems which are operational at most shopping malls including the in-house close circuit security monitors, stores such as Woolworths haven’t released any footage. Strange that shoplifters can be spotted by the cameras but not potential bombers who arguably ought to be caught on camera?

Perplexing too that thus far no journalists have spoken or written about either their attempts to access Woolworths’ CCTV recordings, or whether they have queried if such evidence exists. 

It certainly should be an elementary part of any probe to access footage from all the effected stores in order to identify the perpetrators and have them convicted. 

Unless this is done, unfair speculative reports which lean on “experts” who not only are blinded by their prejudice and biased interpretations, will keep misleading the public about “danger” posed by Muslims and Islam.

A further question which arises is why Woolworths? This after all is the store targeted by Palestinian activists across South Africa in a vigorous boycott campaign to prompt it to suspend trading with Israel. Led by BDS SA, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement in solidarity with Palestine’s freedom struggle ran a hugely successful and popular campaign. 

Does the planting of explosive devices in Woolworths stores raise suspicion against BDS? Will we be confronted by Israeli-linked “terror experts” with allegations or nuanced suggestions implying that Palestinian solidarity movements are part of Muslim “extremists”? 

Intelligence underworld is murky and dirty. 

We’ve been down this road before which reached its peak on the eve of the 2010 soccer world cup, when allegations of “Islamist militants” ready to bomb matches featuring America, became widespread. Information peddlers had a field day via front page headlines warning of impending sabotage of soccer’s premier event hosted for the first time in democratic South Africa. 

This narrative sought to foster hatred against Muslims in the minds of soccer-lovers. Islamophobia at its worst, promoted by “experts” with close links to Israel. Not to be undone, we’ve had repeated warnings issued by the American and British governments about terror attacks at – yes, no surprise – shopping malls. 

Quite apart from the ignominy of a sovereign country such as South Africa being told by arrogant western powers that CIA and M16 intelligence agencies “knows better” and by issuing the alerts, cares less about disrupting economic activity, the jury is still out on why?

Unless a comprehensive review of these and other allegations of perceived terror attacks is undertaken, South Africa may be shortchanged by despicable info peddlers allied to foreign interests. 

The case (rather the lack of case) against the Thulsie Twins, illustrates how faceless foreign agents have had a hand in meddling with their rights. They remain incarcerated as a result of info peddlers while awaiting due process to kick in. Exasperation and frustration is the unfortunate experience of their close family and friends while the twins remain hopeful that their unfair ordeal will end, sooner rather than later. 

South Africa’s security forces have to play within the rules prescribed by the Constitution and mindful of the Bill of Rights. Being led or misled by false representation, whether emanating from the CIA, M16 or Mossad, is not an option. 

Unless the culprits responsible for planting bombs are apprehended and prosecuted, the “Who and Why” will remain a mystery.

Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of the Media Review Network, Johannesburg.

Mettle Administrative Services

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