Builders find three grenades

2010-12-08 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG resident fears for his family’s safety after three hand grenades were dug up in his yard in less than two months.

Johannes Sibosana, who lives two houses away from that of the late South African Communist Party struggle stalwart, Harry Gwala, said he is now scared of further levelling the earth in his yard.

He said he is concerned that there might be more explosives underground.

Builders were busy on Sibosana’s house yesterday morning when they accidentally unearthed an F1 hand grenade, which was manufactured in Eastern Bloc countries.

Police said that although the bomb is rusty and looks like it had been buried since the early 1990s, it still has the potential to detonate and kill.

“I discovered the first one early last month, and the second one came a week later.

I’m now scared to level the earth on my yard because there might be more of these underground,” said Sibosana.

He bought the stand at the end of last year to build a house for his family. The stand has never been built upon and was covered by long grass and trees.

A resident who has lived in the area for a long time said the land had been used to conceal weapons during the struggle years, when Dambuza was a hotbed of political violence.

A construction worker at Sibosana’s house, James Gontwana (56), said he was digging in the soil when the hand grenade came out.

“I first dug with a pickaxe. It appeared as I was removing the soil with a spade. On seeing it I got the fright of my life and ran away from the area,” said Gontwana.

Another worker, Nkululeko Ngobese, said that when they discovered the first explosive they just thought it was no longer dangerous since it was streaked with rust.

“We even kicked it around for about a week until police were called to look at it,” said Ngobese.

Captain Clarence Richard of the police’s explosives unit said he covered the bomb with soil before detonating it without frightening local residents.

Lieutenant-Colonel Renier Botha of the explosives unit said: “The hand grenade can last for more than 30 years underground and still be dangerous.

When one is found, the area must be secured by keeping people away from it before police are informed,” he said.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan said attempts to use sniffer dogs and metal detectors to unearth any other explosives were unsuccessful as scrap metal was also buried in Sibosana’s yard.

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