South Africa was tensed and panicky yesterday when the news about United States of America issuing a warning about a possible terror attack on US government facilities of interest in South Africa, circulated. We were all worried because although South Africa is a violent nation, it has relatively enjoyed the absence of terror attacks. There have been no tangible reports of extremists in the nation, and South Africa has always been disassociated with Islamist militancy activities. So the news came with sudden and overwhelming fear.
As found on the United States Diplomatic Mission to South Africa website, the security message advised US citizens to review their personal security plans; remain aware and vigilant of their surroundings, including local events, monitor local news stations for updates and follow instructions from local authorities.
It ultimately called for the citizens to “be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance their personal security”. As it “has received information that extremists may be targeting U.S. interests in South Africa, to possibly include U.S. Government facilities and other facilities identifiable with U.S. business interests. There is no additional information as to timing or potential targeting.”
The security message gave out links and numbers to contact for further information, and even asked them to enroll in a Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive security messages and make it easier for them to be located in an emergency.
Reacting to this event, the State security minister David Mahlobo, emphasizes that there is no need for panic, as there is no immediate threat or danger. Speaking to eNCA, Mahlobo said that “as South African government, we want to confirm that there is an interaction between the security agencies of our republic and that of the United States, and we have shared information, and on the information we have now, we’ve made a conclusion that there is no immediate threat that can actually befall anyone who is within the Republic of South Africa. Therefore there’s no need for panic.”
He further stated that “as a concern that is raised by the Americans, we would continue to do our normal job, to share information, be under alert, we will not be in a position to be complacent. But as we know, South Africa remains stable and there is no immediate danger or threat that is being caused by any terrorist group to this republic.”
To the US citizens and non South Africans, said “South Africa remains a destination of choice, we’re strong in social scenes like the security agencies from intelligence to the police and to the military…Be assured the this government…will do whatever it takes to ensure your safety”.