South African tolling agency receives second anthrax scare

The SA National Roads Agency Limited experienced its second anthrax scare in the same week, the latest of which occurred on Friday and necessitated the evacuation of a Centurion office building.

According to local police, Sanral's operations center in Centurion was evacuated on Friday and two people were quarantined after the discovery of a white powder, the South African Press Association reports.

"The Sanral offices were evacuated after an anthrax scare and we have specialists on the scene to see if the white powder found was anthrax," Lt. Col Katlego Mogale, a member of the local police force, said, according to SAPA. "Two people have been quarantined and taken to hospital."

Later on Friday, Electronic Toll Collection, whose staff occupy the building, said the white powder found at the center was harmless.

The previous scare occurred on January 21 when Sanral's operations center in Pretoria had to be evacuated. Thirty-seven people were decontaminated and hospitalized for precautionary measures after coming into contact with an unidentified powder. On Wednesday, Sanral said the substance was not dangerous.

Nazir Alli, the CEO of Sanral, condemned the group or people responsible for the powder scares.

"We appeal to people's sense of citizenship," Alli said, according to SAPA. "Yes, citizens are active and entitled to dissent within the context of a constitutional democracy. Those who have chosen to show their dissent by sending these powdery substances to our centre are showing an unfortunate conception of citizenship."

Alli said it was unfortunate that such incidents diverted public resources away from areas where they might be needed, SAPA reports.