'Sound was a very scary one'

Mhlaba Memela

A Standard Bank automated teller machine (ATM) was blown up at a Madadeni petrol station in Newcastle, in the northern KwaZulu-Natal, early on Saturday morning.

The latest ATM bombing is the second one in the Newcastle area in six months. Last year one was blown up in the local industrial area.

Several ATMs have been blown up in various parts of the country in the latest crime wave in South Africa.

Two suspects were arrested in Soweto last week in connection with ATM bombings.

The petrol station in Newcastle is situated in a residential area and the closest house is only 20m away.

Residents thanked God the petrol tanks did not explode.

A petrol attendant said they heard an explosion while they were in the waiting room .

"We did not know what was happening. The sound was a very frightening one. I thought there was something wrong with the petrol tanks. We all ran towards the police station," he said, adding that they noticed two armed men collecting something behind the ATM before driving away in white sedan.

Police spokesman Captain Shooz Magundulela said the ATM was blown up at about 2.30am.

"Police have launched a manhunt. The suspects made off with an undisclosed amount of cash and no one was hurt," he said.

Meanwhile an explosives expert has warned that flammable petroleum posed a huge risk that could cause massive damage and loss of life as a result of these bombings.