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SA terror alert: Security stepped up at malls

| Crime and security

Most of South Africa’s major shopping centres have stepped up security, after two of the world’s superpowers, along with Australia, issued alerts of possible terror attacks targeted at Joburg and Cape Town malls.

It emerged on 6th June 2016 that Australia had joined Britain and the US in updating its travel advisory on terror alerts for its citizens intending to visit South Africa.

The Australian government said: “The US government issued a terrorism alert to its citizens in South Africa on June 4.

“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.”

Over the weekend, the US government had issued a terror alert for South Africa after the terrorist group Islamic State made a public call for its adherents to carry out terrorist attacks globally during the upcoming month of Ramadaan.

“The US 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,” said US Embassy spokeswoman Cynthia Harvey.

“Protection of US citizens overseas is among our top priorities. When we receive specific, credible, non-counterable threat information, it is our worldwide policy for US embassies and consulates to share the information. We are co-operating with local authorities, as we do in any investigation into terrorist threats around the world,” she said.

This appeared to prompt the UK to issue an alert of its own, by adjusting warnings and travel advisories for its citizens.

A few hours later, Australia followed suit.

Several of the local malls are beefing up their security. From Joburg and Pretoria to Cape Town and Pietermaritzburg, major shopping centres are leaving nothing to chance to ensure their customers are safe.

In greater Joburg, three of the big malls under the Liberty Property Portfolio - Sandton City, Nelson Mandela Square and Eastgate - have confirmed stepping up their security measures.

“We can confirm that we have taken note of the security alert issued by the US Diplomatic Mission to South Africa. We are also working closely with the SAPS,” said Nomzamo Radebe, the chief executive of JHI Retail.

“The Liberty Property Portfolio would like to assure our customers that their security is of utmost priority to us,” she said.

Radebe added that Liberty had also beefed up security at Liberty Midlands Mall in Pietermaritzburg and Liberty Promenade in Cape Town.

Also improving security is the new Mall of Africa in Midrand. Brand manager Vanessa Fourie said: “We are aware of the terror alert. We are working with security agencies in all our properties, guided by our policies to safeguard our property and customers. We are also working closely with the SAPS.”

Management at Menlyn Park in Pretoria has also indicated it was improving security at the shopping centre.

On 6yh June 2016, the South African government appeared to downplay the terror threat alerts, saying the warning by the US government was merely part of Washington’s standard precautionary communication to its residents around the world.

“The country's security services have liaised with the Americans on the concerns they have. These engagements will continue as part of the ongoing work,” said the State Security Ministry.

“We remain a strong and stable democratic country and there's no immediate danger posed by the alert.”

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The Star

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