Award for local bomb technician

2020-01-30 15:04

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A Pietermaritzburg police officer, who was part of a team that worked around the clock to nab perpetrators in terrorist-related activities in Durban, scooped an award at the recent National SAPS Excellence Awards.

Sergeant Kerry Adams (37) won a judge’s praise for her role in cracking down on the KZN bomb scares and Verulam mosque attacks which also involved incendiary devices planted in various malls.

Adams was named employee of the year in the criminal record and crime scene management category under level five to seven. Adams who is the only woman in the Pietermaritzburg Explosive Unit team, was also named the SAPS best bomb technician provincially in 2017.

The Pietermaritzburg Explosives Unit team led by Lieutenant-Colonel Clarence Richard, which Adams is part of, also scooped the team of the year award in the same category.

Between March and August 2018, Durban and surrounding areas were plagued with several incidents of placing and detonating explosive devices.

Following the mosque attack, a multi-disciplinary team comprising Crime Intelligence, the Hawks, forensic experts and the National Prosecuting Authority was tasked to investigate these incidents.

Speaking to The Witness on Wednesday, Adams said she was ecstatic, but the award was not an individual accolade but as a result of teamwork.

“For me it’s a gesture of appreciation. I don’t like to hog the spotlight. I work well with the team and everyone puts in the hard work. We all push the same amount of work. It was a privilege for us to receive two awards,” Adams said.

Asked about how she felt when she was named the winner, Adams said she had not expected it.

“I was up against some of the most decorated officers in the country. I wasn’t expecting to win. I thought I would just be a runner-up. We were actually taking a chance,” she said.

Adams and Richard were posted at two properties in Durban. There were eight rooms in the house and six vehicles outside the house, which they searched to ensure that no pieces of evidence were left behind.

She entered one of the rooms in the house and identified a device similar to the one that was used in the attack at the mosque and the ones found in Woolworths stores around Durban.

“We had to link up and do analysis to link all the suspects that were arrested to those cases. It’s no use finding a device, and only charging a person for one device and all the previous cases are lost.

“We had to control the scene [and then] cut the device open without destroying the evidence and it was a lengthy process. We didn’t take a break, we had to make sure whatever had to be done was done,” Adams said.

The nitty-gritty of piecing together various objects including cellular phones and knives ensured a water-tight case.

“You have to look at all the previous cases and identify the similarities. You have to match paint, ratios of the chemicals in the substance, tool marks and wiring on the device.”

Adams, who has been with the explosives unit for eight years, was also part of the team that ensured five convictions for would-be robbers who were nabbed by a police task team in Howick, en route to an ATM bombing.

The mother of three joined the SAPS in 2002. Previously, she worked as a diver in the PMB dog unit.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Seargent Mthokozisi Ngobese congratulated Adams and the team on their good work.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  police awards

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