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‘South Africa isn't immune to the threat of terrorist attacks’

The IRR says porous borders and document fraud make South Africa ‘vulnerable’ to terror attacks.

Sandton. Picture: Gary Oberholzer/Talk Radio 702

JOHANNESBURG - The Institute of Race Relations says South Africa is not immune to the threat of a terrorist attack, saying there are a number of factors that make the country vulnerable.

The United States (US) embassy issued a terror alert over the weekend, but international relations believe the source lacks credibility and now government has served a demarche on the embassy.

The institute's Frans Cronje, however, says South Africa should not see itself as immune.

Cronje says there should have been a co-ordinated statement between the foreign agencies and government.

"South Africa has very porous borders, it's easy to obtain fraudulent documentation. Our weapons are easily available, we are on the tail of what's called 'the African terror belt' - there are numerous examples of terror suspects, or people linked to terror suspects, being found in possession of South African documents."

On Monday, the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium said it had verified reports of al-Shabaab supporters in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, and in a suburb of Vereeniging.

The US embassy warned attacks are likely to be carried out at upscale shopping malls in Cape Town and Johannesburg during the month of Ramadan.

PRESIDENCY DISTANCES ITSELF FROM DIRCO, SSA STATEMENT

Earlier this week, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation's (Dirco) spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the terror alert issued by the US embassy was based on dubious and unsubstantiated information.

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

Monyela said South Africa's security agencies had always maintained contact with foreign intelligence agencies based in the country; which included information exchanges on threats.

The department and The State Security Agency (SSA) issued a joint statement in which they accused the embassy of attempting to influence and manipulate South Africa's efforts to combat terrorism.

However, this afternoon Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said another statement issued by the presidency, relating to the recent terror alerts, was the only official position of government.

His comments at a Cabinet briefing in Pretoria suggested government had distanced itself from the strongly-worded statement issued by Dirco and the SSA.

The presidency's statement was measured and diplomatic, and reflected on the close working relations with the US.

Monyela has since deleted a tweet in which he stated he received the highest level of approval for the statement.

Additional reporting from Lauren Isaacs & Barry Bateman

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