Durban bomb hoaxers could pay for wasting cops’ time
Police have warned the culprits behind three hoax bomb threats in Durban on Thursday that aside from facing criminal charges‚ they could face a hefty bill for wasting state resources.
Pandemonium erupted in the city on Thursday when hundreds of tenants of the 23-storey Commercial City building in central Durban were evacuated following a bomb scare.
Police officers‚ including members of the explosives unit‚were called to the building. The area houses the offices of a number of provincial government departments‚ including arts and culture‚ agriculture and rural development‚ health and home affairs.
It also houses offices of the ANC and the Public Protector.
That scare came only hours after hundreds of shoppers and employees at the Cornubia Mall in Mount Edgecombe were evacuated following a bomb threat earlier on Thursday morning.
Later in the afternoon‚ the Phoenix police station‚ north of Durban‚ was evacuated amid fears that three explosive devices had been planted there.
All three turned out to be hoax calls.
National police spokesman Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said hoax calls to police were common around school holidays.
“We are inundated with hoax calls during this time. They tend to exhaust our resources. Sometimes we go up to 60% of our calls being pranks.”
Naidoo said that hoax calls have serious implications both financially and criminally.
“The public must realise that apart from it being a criminal offence‚ the state can ask the court to recover the money wasted on resources.
“The court can make a ruling that money be recovered.”
Naidoo said the resources wasted on hoax emergencies could be used elsewhere.
“The first responders to such scenes are visible policing‚ explosives unit and the dog unit. It’s unacceptable that these resources are being wasted‚” he said.
The state have made examples of people who perpetuate fake crimes‚ like Sibongile Mbambo‚ the mother of newborn baby Siwaphiwe‚ who was allegedly taken in a hijacking. However‚ it turned out that Mbambo and her lover‚ the child’s father‚ had orchestrated the incident.
She was sentenced to a five-year jail term after she pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and defeating the ends of justice for her role in the hoax kidnapping of her then one-month-old child.