‘Jihadists in Africa need to be dealt with’

Thabo Mbeki says Africa needs to urgently find ways to deal with terrorist groups.

Former President Thabo Mbeki. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Former President Thabo Mbeki says the African continent is in "great need" of peace and must urgently find ways to deal with jihadist groups like al-Shabaab.

Mbeki spoke at the Bethesda Methodist Mission Church in Houghton on Thursday about pertinent African issues.

He said while Africans are talking about the need for peace and stability, terrorist groups like al-Shabaab are on the rise and killing innocent people.

Al-Shabaab militants stormed Nairobi's upscale Westgate Shopping Mall on 21 September in a siege that lasted four days.

At least 67 people were killed and dozens more were injured.

South African businessman James Thomas was among those killed in the attack.

Mbeki said the continent must closely monitor the militant group.

"It may very well be that these groups will spread and I think all of this requires very detailed attention."

In its latest message to Kenya on Wednesday, nearly two weeks after the terror attack took place, al-Shabaab warned the attacks were not over.

South Africa's security cluster has been instructed to step up safety process and review security in the wake of the siege.

Last weekend, the ANC's top leaders met for a two-day meeting where the situation in Kenya was placed on high agenda.

The party's Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said the security cluster would work with relevant institutions in South Africa and abroad to strengthen the security of the country.

Mantashe said the attack in Nairobi has made South African authorities realise the need to urgently tighten the country's security.

"There is a higher need for tighter immigration laws and processes to strengthen the security features of South African identity documents and the monitoring of movements of people in general and suspicious movements in particular."

Mbeki also said he is concerned about the state of corruption in South Africa.

He said the only way corruption will be minimised is if the public starts speaking out against these crimes.

"As a population, we know who is corrupt and we know what they are doing. Many of us who have lived in the rest of the continent always deceived ourselves and said we'll never see this kind of corruption in South Africa - we were wrong."