South Africa

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US hints that it did consult SA government before embassy issued Sandton security warning

US hints that it did consult SA government before embassy issued Sandton security warning

The US State Department says the US does cooperate closely with South Africa on security concerns.

The US government has suggested indirectly that its embassy in Pretoria did in fact consult with the South African government before issuing a controversial alert to its citizens last week that terrorists might strike in Sandton over the weekend. 

South African government officials, from President Cyril Ramaphosa down, have rebuked the US embassy for posting the terror alert without first advising Pretoria. 

Ramaphosa said on Thursday: “It is quite unfortunate the US issued that type of warning without having any type of discussion with us.” He added that it should be the South African government which issued such a warning.  

‘US was out of line; there’s no direct terrorist threat to SA right now,’ says Deputy State Security Minister Zizi Kodwa

Deputy State Security Minister Zizi Kodwa told journalists on Thursday that when South African intelligence officials asked the US government about the alert, it would not divulge its reasons for suspecting an attack.  

The US embassy has so far declined to react to these criticisms. But Ned Price, the spokesperson for the State Department did respond, though rather obliquely, when asked about it on Friday during the department’s daily briefing in Washington.  


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A journalist noted that the US had issued security alerts in South Africa and Nigeria in recent days and said that in both countries, but particularly in South Africa, “some of the government leaders had voiced concern about what they said was a lack of communication from the US side. To what extent has the United States been in touch with these two countries about the security situation? To what extent do you believe that they have the situation under control?” 

Price replied: “Of course, we have no higher priority than the safety and security of American citizens around the world. We … have a responsibility to the American citizen community around the world that we provide them with timely notification when we have information available to us regarding a potential threat. We take steps — prudent steps to mitigate the threat, but also to inform the public.” 

Price noted that from October 27 the US embassy in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, evacuated some family members of embassy staff, “out of an abundance of caution … related to an elevated risk of terrorist — of terror attacks in Nigeria. And we’ve put out attendant messaging to the American citizen community. 

“We do cooperate closely with countries around the world — certainly close partners like South Africa, like Nigeria — on shared security concerns. And any potential threat in either country could well pose a shared threat to our interests as well.  

“We’ve been in close contact with Nigerian authorities. We appreciate the effort of our Nigerian partners to address security threats in Abuja and across the country.  

“The same is true of our relationship with South Africa. We have a close relationship with our South African partners, and we deeply appreciate efforts that they make to protect their interests and, in turn, our interests in the country as well.” 

Many observers believed that the Joburg Pride march in Sandton on Saturday could be the target of the suspected terror attack. In the end, the weekend passed uneventfully, though there seemed to be higher security than usual at the march and elsewhere in Sandton. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Chris Green says:

    Pity the US Intelligence guys didn’t issue anything in July 2021. SA was left to rely on our own divided and shambolic sub intelligent spies. Then again, maybe the US did, and our guys conveniently hid it. !!

    • Donald Moore says:

      I dont thin USA intelligence would monitor the RET faction in SA. Perhaps it would be helpful if they did do so after all USA citizens and interests can be affected by what the RET faction might do.

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    I will believe USA long before these hapless SA politicians. that nothing happened does not prove the politicians point at all, it proves that were there to be an attack it was probably scared off.

  • Two Wrongs Aint No Right says:

    It is believable, the SA government’s typical response would be then to go into indecision mode. Then of course the natural thing for the USA would be to warn its citizens. Our government puts warning our citizens right at the bottom of the priority list.

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