SA security cluster has met over US terror alert - Presidency

2016-06-08 16:29
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Johannesburg - South Africa’s security agencies met on Wednesday to discuss the terror warning issued by the US Embassy in Pretoria over the weekend.

President Jacob Zuma said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon that the security cluster had met "to discuss the matter further, with a view to ensuring the continued safety of all in the country".

In contrast to an earlier government statement, which downplayed the seriousness of the information on which the US had based its security message, the Presidency said: "The South African government will continue to discuss the matter with the United States government as part of on-going co-operation on security issues between the two countries."

"South Africa and the United States continue to enjoy strong and cordial relations in various areas of cooperation including political, economic, social and security matters," the Presidency said.

The departments of international relations and state security earlier slammed the US for basing its warning on information that was “very sketchy".

In the statement, the government said the terror warning was "dubious, unsubstantiated and provided by a 'walk-in' source based on questionable conclusions".

State Security Minister David Mahlobo earlier said the South African security agencies were working with the relevant authorities to keep citizens safe.

News24 has reported that state intelligence believed the information was based on that from a local East African businessman who had been discredited.

The government said in its recent statement that it had formally protested to the relevant embassies for the way the matter was handled.

"South Africa, as a sovereign peace loving country, has always adopted a professional manner in engaging with other countries on these issues.

"We are, therefore displeased with the manner in which some countries have reciprocated. Their actions have been disingenuous and a cause for serious concern to our government," the government’s earlier statement read.

US Embassy spokesperson Cynthia Harvey on Wednesday afternoon said the embassy continued to work with the South African government on the matter.

She confirmed there was "no change in status of the security message issued on June 4, 2016. It was based on specific, credible, and non-counterable threat information".

Harvey said the embassy has been, and continues to be, "pleased and impressed with the high level of professionalism and transparent co-operation with the government of South Africa throughout this period".
She did not want to give any specific comment on the earlier statement.

The US said in its alert on Saturday that it had received information that radical Islamic terror groups were planning to attack "places where US citizens congregate in South Africa, such as upscale shopping areas and malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town" ahead of Ramadan, which started on Tuesday.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  us  |  security

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