South Africa 'not immune to terror'

By Marelize Potgieter
23 March 2016

OR Tambo International Airport is on high alert in light of the Brussels attacks. Travellers should allow themselves more travel time in the event of emergency cancellations.

Europe is in an uproar after a series of bomb attacks rocked Belgium’s capital Brussels yesterday. Belgium has raised it's terror alert to the highest level and the country has all but come to a standstill, with Belgians ordered not to leave their homes.

 PHOTO: OR Tambo, Facebook PHOTO: OR Tambo, Facebook

The local government did not want to comment on whether South Africans could expect similar terror attacks.

Brian Dube, spokesperson for the minister of national security, David Mahlobo, couldn’t say whether South Africa could be under threat in light of the recent increase in terror attacks around the world.

“No country is immune against these kinds of attacks. Our security services are ready to intervene in the case of any eventuality.”

The death toll in Brussels has risen to well over 30 people and more than 200 are in a critical condition as a result of the series of blasts across Brussels’ Airport and a Metro station.

Read more: Harrowing footage shows terrified civilians fleeing Brussels airport after explosions

At this point, no South Africans have been reported dead or injured, News24 reports.

The South African embassy in Brussels has reported that all South African transferred officials and locally recruited personnel have been accounted for, the department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco) said.

Dirco said it had not yet received any information or inquiries about South African citizens in Belgium, who may have been involved in any of the reported incidents. It was in contact with relevant local authorities and other useful sources of information in this regard and will give updates on the situation as it unfolds.

"South Africa stands firmly with the rest of the international community in its condemnation of these attacks and reiterates its stance that terrorism, in whatever form and from whichever quarter, cannot be condoned," it said.

Media24's Maryke Crumpsty, who is in Germany at the moment for a conference, says there is a very ‘uneasy’ feeling amongst the group that she’s travelling with. The group were stranded at the Berlin airport after flights were suspended yesterday.

“It was very real to be here [in Europe] at this time,” she told YOU from Berlin.

Maryke and her travelling companions were at an airport in Istanbul on Saturday when another bomb exploded in the Turkish city.

Travel agents Seekers has issued a statement saying that OR Tambo International Airport would be on high alert in light of recent attacks and that travellers should allow themselves more travel time in the event of emergency cancellations.

However, Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) says the high alert status was activated last week ahead of the long weekend and "is not linked in any way to Brussels bombings".

"Increased security measures are part of normal, cyclical operational and contingency planning," an Acsa spokesperson told YOU. "An airport is usually placed on high alert during peak travel periods due to expected to high volumes of passengers."

They added that this will not affect airport users and travellers in any way

Additional source: BBC, The Independent

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