Terror alerts: Malls in Cape Town, Joburg step up security

2016-06-06 20:02
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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Johannesburg – A corporate group representing five malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town says they've stepped up security after the United States, British and Australian embassies put South Africa on terror alert.

In a statement, CEO for JHI Retail Nomzamo Radebe said the group had "taken note" of the security alert.

"All five shopping centres in the Liberty Property Portfolio – Sandton City, Nelson Mandela Square, Eastgate, Liberty Midlands Mall and Liberty Promenade – are on high alert and additional security measures have been implemented in line with the Liberty Group policy. We are also working closely with SAPS."

Spokesperson for the V&A Waterfront Carla White said earlier that security teams at the mall met regularly and co-operated with SAPS and national and regional intelligence.

"In response to the notification of this threat, SAPS has increased their presence and vigilance at the V&A Waterfront, and similarly we have also implemented actions accordingly." 

Speaking to News24, Mall of Africa Grand Manager Vanessa Fourie said the newly-built shopping centre was fully aware of the terror alert and had taken steps to increase security.

"We have a security company on board and additional steps have been taken to ensure safety. We are also reliant on our relationship with the police and are keeping those channels opened."

Call for attacks during Ramadan

In an alert issued on Saturday, the US government said it had "received information that terrorist groups are planning to carry out near-term attacks against places where US citizens congregate in South Africa, such as upscale shopping areas and malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

"This information comes against the backdrop of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's public call for its adherents to carry out terrorist attacks globally during the upcoming month of Ramadan."

The British and Australian embassies soon followed with both entities saying their governments had revised their travel alert to South Africa following the US warning at the weekend.

Clarifying earlier reports that the UK had issued a new alert, the British embassy's Isabel Potgieter told News24 that their government issued an alert on May 20 but had revised it at the weekend following the US alert.

Potgieter said the UK government was not advising its citizens against travel to South Africa.

Australia's government said,"The US government issued a terrorism alert to its citizens in South Africa on June 4, 2016.

"The warning notes that 'the government has received information that terrorist groups are planning to carry out near-term attacks against places where US citizens congregate in South Africa, such as upscale shopping areas and malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town'.

"Be particularly vigilant in areas frequented by foreigners at this time. The level of this advice has not changed. We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in South Africa."

SA government downplays alert

The Department of Home Affairs said on Monday that South Africans should not panic following the travel warning by the British High Commission.

Spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said travel warnings were precautions "taken by countries to protect their citizens, it is not for us to panic".

"Whatever they are warning their citizens about, it doesn't necessarily mean it is going to happen or it is a fact. Ebola is an example of something that [we were warned about] but never happened on our shores," Tshwete said.

State Security Minister David Mahlobo downplayed the US government's terror alert on Monday, giving assurances that his department was doing all it could to keep South Africa safe against attacks.

It was part of the United States government's "standard precautionary recommendation to its residents", he said in a statement.

"We remain a strong and stable democratic country and there is no immediate danger posed by the alert."

Read more on:    david mahlobo  |  cape town  |  johannesburg  |  security

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