Following a stern warning by the U.S. Embassy in South Africa of a possible attack by terrorists and the porous nature of SA security system, analysts warned that weaknesses in South Africa’s police and intelligence agencies could make the country vulnerable to an extremist attack.
The U.S. Embassy in South Africa issued a statement on Saturday warning U.S. citizens about the threat of “near-term attacks against places where U.S. citizens congregate in South Africa, such as upscale shopping areas and malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town.”
SA government on its own part watered down the warnings saying the information was unreliable and that it is capable of protecting people on its soil.
But a consultant on radicalization and terrorism, Anneli Botha said issues like this ought to be taken very seriously considering the economic impact it will have on the country.
According to her, South Africa is an economic hub with Western interests that has been spared devastating attacks like those elsewhere in the world.
“I’m not saying an attack is imminent,” Botha told the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Southern Africa.
She cautioned: “We cannot say that this will never happen to us.”
For years, extremists are believed to have used South Africa as a safe haven or potential pool for recruits, including some who have sought to join ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
South Africa is at some extent secured. With lots off its security system well mounted in strategic areas one would want to feel relaxed but experts say the country still suffers intelligence gaps.
Statistic SA revealed in its 2014-2015 crime fact sheet, that crime in SA has been on the increase with murder cases drastically on the high side for the first time in 2 years.
Murder is an important crime to monitor because unlike other crimes, the number of reported murders is likely to be very close to the actual number of murders committed. The murder rate is regarded as one indicator of a country’s stability – the higher it is, the less stable a country is regarded to be.
Meanwhile, Security consultant Nick Piper said security shortfalls are evident in the regular armed robberies in shopping areas. He further described security on the Gautrain as shoddy.