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ANOTHER ATM BOMBED, THUGS FLEE WITH HEAVY BAG

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MBABANE – Residents of Msunduza had their peaceful sleep interrupted by a loud explosion in the early morning hours when an ATM belonging to Standard Bank was bombed and reduced to rubble yesterday.

Simultaneously, an attempt was made to vandalise an ATM near the Kentucky Fried Chicken in the city centre, but the effort did not yield any fruit.
The ATM, which is positioned in front of the All Stationery along the traffic circle separating the Mbabane Industrial Sites and Extension 3, was mangled by the explosives which struck twice. The incident caused spectators to worry about the potent of explosives in the hands of criminals.
A security guard in one of the businesses said it was about 3am when he saw three people walking hesitantly along the street.“Usually, we start seeing people rushing to work at around 4.30am, which is why it was odd to see people at that time of the morning. I stretched my neck to inquire but they seemed to have disappeared. I then returned to my spot,” he said.

Patrolling

The security guard said before seeing the three, he had seen a police car patrolling the Sheffield Road. “Soon thereafter was a loud explosion which shook the ground. I thought it was an electric transformer bursting, but when I looked around I did not see it. In less than a moment thereafter the explosion hit again. I saw three men picking things from the ground near the ATM. They were disturbed by a police car that was coming about 300 metres away, and they fled towards the Mbabane Burial Society,” he said. The security guard said a night watchman in one of the businesses also said he had seen the men helping each other to carry a bag and they fled on foot into the thick forest between the Industrial site and Mountain Inn.

He said the police who disturbed the three looked into the forest but did not see them.“The police just heard dogs barking and coordinated with other officers, saying one car must guard near the Youth Centre and another should be positioned at the Mangwaneni Traffic lights,” he related. He said while still waiting, a security guard emerged to say he was nearly killed by the thugs. “He approached the police saying bacishe bangbulala labantfu (these people nearly killed me),” he recalled.

The guard said when the police asked him what had happened, he said two of the thugs had ordered him to lie on the ground and pressed their feet on his head, while one was collecting something from the ATM. He said the guard was protecting business premises close to the crime scene.
For the better part of the morning hours, police cordoned off the crime scene while collecting evidence together with workers of the Standard Bank.
The bomb disposal unit and the K9 squad were also deployed to work around the crime scene. Both a drone and a helicopter were dispatched as investigative tools.

Incident

Standard Bank Eswatini Head of Brand and Marketing Sibusile Sigwane confirmed the incident and said police were investigating. Standard Bank Eswatini confirmed that an ATM located at the Industrial site in Mbabane was bombed in the early hours of the morning. “The police are currently investigating the matter further. We will not be making any further remarks on the matter,” she said. Deputy Police Information and Communications Officer Inspector Nosipho Mnguni said it was too early to ascertain if money was taken because police were still investigating. “We are working together with the Standard Bank on the issue, so it is still too early to give details on whether money was stolen,” she said. Mnguni appealed to members of the public to assist the police in arresting the culprits. She also confirmed the attempt to vandalise other ATMs in the city. “This is the second incident of the bombing of an ATM within the space of a month.

“We condemn this habit in the strongest terms. Police will tighten their vigilance to ensure this habit comes to an end,” she said. Two weeks ago, an ATM belonging to the First National Bank was bombed in the Central Business District of Mbabane, where an unstated amount of money was stolen.
The ATM near All Stationery was also vandalised during the political unrest of June 29 last year.

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