Terror warning: 'Unfortunate' that US didn't consult us before causing panic - Ramaphosa

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President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa
PHOTO: Jeffrey Abrahams, Gallo Images

President Cyril Ramaphosa criticised the US for failing to discuss a terror alert issued by the American Embassy with local authorities.

The embassy warned on Wednesday that one of South Africa’s wealthiest suburbs may be the target of an attack this weekend, and advised its staff to avoid crowds of people and other large public gatherings. The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office issued a travel warning echoing the US statement.

"It was quite unfortunate that the US government issued that type of warning without having had a deep-dive type of discussion with us,” Ramaphosa said Thursday at a briefing in the capital, Pretoria.

"It is unfortunate that another government should issue such a threat as to send panic among our people."

The authorities are working to verify the threat, and the government will issue an alert if needs be, he said.

US mission spokesman David Feldmann declined to comment further when contacted by phone.

The biggest gathering planned this weekend in Sandton is a Johannesburg Pride event to celebrate LGBTQ+ rights. Organizers of the parade, which has previously drawn tens of thousands of people, plan to proceed with the gathering.

READ | Sandton terror warning: 'Targeted' pride event goes ahead as Kodwa slams US for not following procedure

"We have spent the last 24 hours assessing the situation, consulting with authorities, and managing the situation as a whole from a planning standpoint," the organizers said in a statement. "We are confident that Johannesburg Pride march and celebrations can go ahead as planned thanks to our team, private security, and the authorities."

South Africa has hosted Pride marches for more than three decades. The nation’s post-apartheid constitution was the first in the world to prohibit unfair discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and it was the fifth country to legalize same-sex marriages. 

Many of the biggest companies in South Africa, including financial services group FirstRand Ltd., chemicals company Sasol Ltd., insurer Discovery, Bank of America, Citigroup, law firms and international auditing firms such as EY have their headquarters in Sandton. There is also a multi-faceted retail space in the suburb, which attracts crowds of tourists and locals on weekends. 

Liberty Two Degrees Ltd., the operator of retail properties in Sandton said it’s taken sufficient security measures in and around the Sandton City mall, Nelson Mandela Square, offices, hotels and the Sandton Convention Centre.

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