To help curb illegal use of explosives, AECI Mining Explosives has partnered with explosive detection patrol company Vapor Wake K9 South Africa (VWK9SA) by providing it with samples of explosives to assist in training its dogs.
Criminal activities that involve the use of illicit explosives in South Africa – especially cash-in-transit (CIT) heists and the bombing of automated teller machines – have been on the rise in recent years.
In this regard, AECI Mining Explosives notes that at least one CIT heist a day was recorded between January and mid-February this year.
AECI Mining Explosives explains that criminal activities involving explosives endanger public safety on a large scale and can severely impact on the economic and political stability of any country.
To address the situation, it points out that the rapid detection of explosives from the vapour phase would be one way to enhance the protection of society against crime involving explosives.
AECI Mining Explosives risk and safety manager Christo Peltz explains that the products supplied by AECI Mining Explosives range from pyrotechnics to propellants and various other types of high-impact explosives.
However, there are also plans to supply non-commercially available compounds.
“We are not only supplying popular commercial explosives but have also undertaken to prepare explosive compounds in a registered explosives laboratory,” he says.
This is important as the materials used in explosives-related crime, for example, are sometimes prepared in illegal basement or backyard operations and could be dangerous and inherently unstable and, therefore, not available commercially.
“We have the ability to produce these energetic materials in a licensed, controlled and safe manner, and provide small, safe amounts of the materials and legally dispose of them once their purpose is served,” says Peltz.
The amounts of explosives required for training detection dogs is relatively small, with only a few grams of each material being sufficient, he explains.
The persons receiving the explosives, he adds, also need to be in possession of an explosives permit, issued by the South African Police Service’s (SAPS's) explosives inspectorate. This permit stipulates the quantity and type of explosive that may be provided.
The persons receiving the materials also have the legal obligation to store the explosives in a safe and secure manner to prevent unauthorised access. As such, VWK9SA is fully-accredited with the Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority, SAPS Explosives Section and the South African Civil Aviation Authority.
BOMB SNIFFING DOGS
To help combat the situation, AECI Mining Explosives provided commercial explosives to help VWK9SA train its dogs.
VWK9SA provides trained dogs specialised in the detection of explosives and narcotics, as well as tactically trained dogs for security purposes.
VWK9SA owner Brad Wood says the teams consist of a South African Civil Aviation Authority-certified dog and handler, and are experts in conducting searches for a variety of explosive materials in the vicinity of numerous assigned facilities.
“Vapor Wake K9 teams play a critical role in comprehensive preventive security measures, by supporting strategic explosive detection activities. They also provide immediate and specialised responses to bomb threats where unattended packages at airports, for example, or other dangerous items are detected,” he says.
Wood adds that AECI’s involvement in this initiative “goes a long way” in strengthening VWK9SA’s training regime.
AECI Mining Explosives marketing manager Michelle le Roux says VWK9SA’s dogs are “heroes with a nose”, and that AECI Mining Explosives commends them for sniffing out illicit explosives.