An explosive device injured a Makhanda man’s legs shortly after he put down a bag filled with “a number of used hand grenades” he picked up at the town’s military base, where he had trespassed to look for scrap metal to sell.
The incident happened on Monday at the newly mushroomed Nkanini informal settlement east of Makhanda.
The settlement is situated nearby the 6 th SA Infantry Battalion army base where the man breached security.
The 33-year-old man was taken to Settler’s Hospital with splinters from the device still lodged in his legs, said the Eastern Cape health department.
Police said the incident was being treated as a serious case and was being investigated in terms of the Explosives Act.
A case of possession of explosive devices was reported at Joza police station, said Eastern Cape police spokesperson Brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana.
An impeccable police source said:”The man’s bag was filled with a number of used hand grenades believed to have been used for training at the army base. When interviewed, he confirmed that he took them at the army’s shooting range and intended to take them to the scrap metal dealer for cash.”
Eastern Cape health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said the man, now discharged, had been referred to Livingstone Hospital in Gqeberha for further treatment.
Kupelo said he had suffered injuries to both his legs and had pieces of the exploded device lodged in his legs, which was visible through X-rays.
A local publication understands that over the years, people living in Makhanda townships have been cutting the army base fence and stealing it, allowing many to freely move inside the military base.
The army’s wildlife population – including springbok, blesbok, and kudu – has also been seriously depleted over the years due to poaching.
The military airfield has also fallen into a state of disrepair. There is no fence, no runway lights, and animals roam the runaway.
The SA National Defence Force has declined to comment on the incident or about the general security of the army base.
SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi said all questions should be sent to the police who are investigating the explosion.
Kinana said: “It is alleged that on 8 March 2021, at approximately 08:45, Joza SAPS received a complaint of an explosive device that had detonated at Enkanini Informal Settlement.
“On arrival at the scene, they found a 33-year-old [man] outside his residence at Enkanini with injuries to his left leg. The man was collecting scrap metal at a field used by the Grahamstown Military base to sell as scrap metal [to scrap metal dealers].
“It is alleged that when he put the bag down at his residence it exploded, and a shrapnel had struck him in the left leg. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment,” said Kinana.
He added that the Makhanda police’s explosive unit had been on the scene. The incident was also reported to the military, said Kinana.
“At this stage, we would not want to speculate on the type of explosive devices found. Only the investigation will help us understand the nature as well as the origin of the devices concerned. This office is unable to make articulations on the serious nature of injuries sustained and the condition of the person,” said Kinana.
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