Probe into terrorist links

2013-09-30 00:00

ALL new information about British terror suspect the “White Widow”, Samantha Lewthwaite, who allegedly obtained South African passports from convicted Durban fraudster Ehmed Chisty, would be investigated, State Security Agency spokesperson Brian Dube said yesterday.

He was commenting after Chisty (60), currently serving a 37-year jail sentence at Westville prison for passport fraud, allegedly confessed to providing Lewthwaite with fake South African and Swaziland travel documents.

It also emerged yesterday that South Africa was placed on a high security alert last Sunday after Lewthwaite was apparently seen conducting surveillance of embassies in Pretoria three weeks before, an alert that was later downgraded.

DA shadow minister of state security Dirk Stubbe said this was a matter of great concern, adding the party wanted the ministers in the justice, crime prevention and security cluster to “urgently” brief Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI) on investigations into the “White Widow”. “We need the assurance from these ministers that South Africa is not being used as a springboard for terrorism,” he said.

Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor last week said that security around the issuing of passports had been tightened by putting new systems in place, but “it still seems easy to get documents”.

“We cannot sit back and allow South Africa to become a ‘destination of choice’ for terrorists,’’ said Stubbe.

Pandor’s spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said the minister was aware of the origins of Lewthwaite’s South African passport.

Pandor said an investigation had been concluded on the passport held by Natalie Webb in 2011, and the passport had been cancelled then, due its being fraudulently acquired.

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