Ever since the US alongside Britain and Australia sent a warning signal about a possible terrorist attack on the nation’s malls, the South African government has been on its toes figuring out how best to prevent it.
This time, the Home Affairs minister proposed what seems to be a factor towards achieving a terrorist-free state. He suggests that visitors to SA should be ‘given a closer look’.
The home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba who was speaking at the Vision 2030 Summit, lamented at how much the South African government takes the threat warnings with levity, advised that all prospective SA visitors should be properly scrutinized.
“We take it for granted in South Africa that we don’t have to worry that much about terrorism. I do not mean to sound over ominous when I suggest that most countries feel the same way until they do suffer attacks‚” said Gigaba.
Addressing delegates on the last day of the summit in Kempton Park on Thursday, Gigaba said: “We are responsible for deciding whether all prospective visitors of our country are allowed into the country‚” he said.
Reiterating the growing terrorist invasion of most African countries, the minister said countries in north‚ east and west Africa have suffered terror attacks in recent months and years “and certainly like us‚ they did not expect this” he said.
The minister however noted that only a minority of visitors entered SA irregularly and were dangerous criminals involved in terrorism and human trafficking among other crimes. As a result, the home affairs had to be proactive about banning them from entering the country as they also lured young people into a life of terrorism.
Speaking about the pressure his department undergoes in doing its work, Gigaba said the department ended up getting all the criticism and none of the praise.
“The nature of the security department such as home affairs‚ is that we are criticized by those who have the luxury to worry only about their own inconvenience or economic concerns.
We receive deserved criticism for the few criminals that slip through our net such as the white widow several years ago. But receive no praise for the many we prevent‚” said Gigaba.
Meanwhile, the state government has condemned the US terrorist alert saying it was based on “dubious” information‚ adding it had sent a diplomatic protest to foreign embassies over their handling of the alert.
Though the office of the presidency promised to further tighten its security measure to ensure the safety of its citizens, it said it was “displeased” with the manner in which the foreign governments had dealt with the matter‚ calling their actions “disingenuous and a cause for serious concern”.
Nevertheless, the US has maintained that its terror alert is based on credible information and that South Africa should not over look it. The U.S. Embassy in Pretoria also confirmed that there is no change in the status of the Security Message issued on Saturday.