Graveyard grenades

Dan Fuphe

Dan Fuphe

Police were yesterday still waiting for information as to who was responsible for dumping hand grenades in a cemetery.

Constable Denver Subramaniew of the crime prevention unit in Actonville, Benoni, on the East Rand, on Tuesday morning found a plastic bag with seven grenades in the nearby Wattville cemetery.

An explosives expert said six of the grenades were live.

Subramaniew found the explosives at about 7.30am.

Actonville police spokesman Constable Godin Nyathi yesterday said that at the time of the discovery Subramaniew was on patrol alone between Dabula and Xaba streets.

"While driving alone in Wattville on Tuesday morning, the constable was apparently flagged down by an elderly man who told him about a suspicious white plastic bag he had seen at the cemetery.

"On arrival at the scene the constable saw one hand grenade outside the bag.

"Using a stick to open the bag the policeman saw six more grenades inside," he said.

Though not trained in the handling of explosives, Subramaniew threw caution to the wind and, still using the stick, carried the grenades to his patrol car and drove to the police station.

Speaking to Sowetan, Subramaniew said that though he was scared at the time, he had felt obliged not to leave the hand grenades unattended and therefore risk the chance of the cache falling into the hands of the unknown suspects once again.

Nyathi confirmed that the law stipulates that only members of the SAPS trained as bomb-disposal experts have the right to remove or dispose of any explosives.

Superintendent Louis Botha of the Germiston explosives unit described the explosives as three illumination hand grenades, one smoke grenade, one tear gas grenade, one boat flare and an M36 hand grenade dating back to the Second World War.

"These explosives are nonlethal. But if they end up in the hands of the wrong people they can start a fire and cause a lot of damage," he said.

"The M36 was found to be an empty shell," Botha said.