KNYSNA NEWS – A highly toxic and potentially lethal chlorine cylinder stolen from the Rheenendal wastewater treatment works during the night of 28/29 April was recovered later the same day.
It was a joint effort by the Knysna Police and various security responders, including the KSSI (Knysna Safety and Security Initiative), whose drone was used in the search.
Acting Knysna Municipal Manager Phumla Makoma issued a statement early on Thursday, warning that the cylinder contained gas that is extremely dangerous and toxic when it is inhaled. "If you find the cylinder, do not tamper with it or try to open it - it can kill you," she said.
The drone played an essential part in the retrieving of the cylinder, pinpointing its location.
Southern Cape police spokesperson Sgt Christopher Spies said indications are that the suspects damaged the fence to get access to the premises. They stole a 120kg gas bottle and caused damage to a small room on the site.
"On the afternoon of Thursday 29 April, a team comprising of members of the Knysna Police, Tsitsikamma K9, Crime Intelligence and Knysna Municipal Fire Department were dispatched to Rheenendal where a search of the vicinity commenced. They were later joined by Allsound Security," he said.
"Crime scene experts combed the scene for clues and the suspects are yet to be arrested."
In a statement about the incident, Allsound Security said Knysna Police requested assistance for an aerial search using the KSSI drone and members of Allsound Security joined the other search teams.
"A general search area was established and ground teams deployed by the municipality, while the KSSI drone was launched to assist from the air. The drone successfully located the yellow cylinder in an area close to Keurhoek. The location was communicated to the ground search team and the immediate area secured for the police forensic department," read the statement.
Allsound said the swift action and team-work ensured that the cylinder was quickly and safely recovered before anyone could be harmed.
Allsound's Michael Simon said their control room manager, Hugh Knight, was flying the drone when the cylinder was found. "It was a great team effort by all emergency services on the ground and the drone is serving its purpose to assist the greater Knysna in different emergency situations," he said.
Spies confirmed that Knysna detectives are investigating a case of housebreaking and theft. Anyone with information that could help trace the perpetrators is requested to contact the Knysna police on 044 302 6677 or Crime Stop on 08600 10111. Information could also be shared via the MySAPS app.
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