Gvt displeased with handling of US terror alert

JUNE 8, 2016

Government said in a statement on Wednesday that it is displeased with how the threat of violent extremism and terrorism has been handled.

“South Africa as a sovereign, peace-loving country has always adopted a professional manner in engaging with other countries on these issues. We are therefore displeased with the manner in which some countries have reciprocated.

“Their actions have been disingenuous and a cause for serious concern to our government,” a joint statement from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the State Security Agency said on Wednesday.

At the weekend, the US embassy in South Africa, issued an alert that it had received information that terror groups were planning to carry out near-term attacks in the country.

The attacks would target places where US citizens congregate in South Africa, such as upscale shopping areas and malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Britain then revised their travel alert following the US terror alert.

In a statement the British embassy said: “There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners such as shopping areas in Johannesburg and Cape Town.”

Government said the information provided as a basis for the latest terror alerts on South Africa has been found to be very sketchy.

“On closer examination, we have found the information to be dubious, unsubstantiated and provided by a “walk-in” source based on questionable conclusions.”

It is within this context, it said, that the South African government rejects attempts by foreign countries to influence, manipulate or control our country’s counter terrorism work.

“We reject attempts to generate perceptions of government ineptude, alarmist impressions and public hysteria on the basis of a questionable single source.”

The statement said government is fully capable of securing the country, protecting people and taking care of the safety of foreign citizens on its soil.

“We expect foreign embassies on our soil to follow the correct channels when communicating matters of such nature.”

To this end, the South African government has demarched the affected embassies to register displeasure with the manner in which the matter was handled.

“South Africa values the political, economic and social ties with these countries and will approach any discussion within the spirit of cooperation and international solidarity.”

The statement said government takes the threat of violent extremism and terrorism very seriously.

“It is a global phenomenon that no nation can claim immunity from,” it said.

It added that as part of their work, South Africa’s security agencies are in constant liaison with foreign intelligence services represented in South Africa.

Their work includes information exchanges on threats presented by violent extremism and terrorism.

“Government wishes to reiterate that the security of all people in South Africa remains its top priority. The security services will continue to remain vigilant at all times. Should the need arise, the South African government will be the first to inform the public about any eminent threat.” - SAnews.gov.za