Explosion leaves Makhanda man injured

A 22 -year-old Makhanda man was rushed to hospital with injuries to his left leg.
A 22 -year-old Makhanda man was rushed to hospital with injuries to his left leg.
Image: 123rf.com/ Jaromír Chalabala

A local Makhanda man was rushed to hospital on Monday morning after a bag of “scrap metal”, which included an explosive device, which he had collected from the army base outside the city, detonated at his home.

Provincial police spokesman Brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana said police were called out at 8.45am on Monday to attend to an explosion in the Enkanini informal settlement east of the city.

“They found a 22-year-old outside his residence at Enkanini with injuries to his left leg.”

The man had been collecting scrap metal at the 6 SA Infantry (6SAI) military base about five kilometers north of the city.

“It is alleged that when he put the bag down at his residence it exploded and shrapnel had struck in in the left leg. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment.”

Kinana said the Makhanda police explosive unit had attended the scene and the incident had been reported to the military. The matter will be investigated further, he said.

This is not the first incident of its kind.

In 2005, a 60mm high explosive mortar collected as scrap metal from the same military base exploded in a high density urban area of Makhanda known as Ghost Town.

Shrapnel ripped through nearby shacks, blighting the lives of several families. Three people were killed and then eight-year-old Arnold Plaatjies lost an eye and was seriously injured and disfigured.

After a 13-year long court battle, the SANDF in 2018 paid out an undisclosed amount in damages to Plaatjies after finally admitting liability.

In court papers it was claimed that most of the fencing surrounding the military base with its extensive land had been steadily stolen over the years allowing members of the community easy access to the base to hunt game and collect scrap metal – including unexploded ordinance used in training exercises.

Currently, much of the fencing surrounding the base has been stolen. The poles have been sawn off and removed along with the wire of the once six-foot high electric fence, leaving gaping holes extending for kilometers around the periphery of the base.

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