SOUTH Africans take for granted that they do not have to worry much about terrorism, but prospective visitors to the country need to be carefully appraised before being allowed in, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Thursday.
His statement was another from a government minister since the US terror alert issued on Saturday and subsequently affirmed by the British and Australian governments.
“We take it for granted in South Africa that we don’t have to worry that much about terrorism. I do not mean to sound over ominous, when I suggest that most companies feel the same way until they do suffer attacks,” said Gigaba, speaking on the last day of the Vision 2030 Summit in Kempton Park.
“We are responsible for deciding whether all prospective visitors of our country are allowed into the country,” he said.
The minister also spoke about the pressure his department faced in doing its work, saying it got all the criticism and none of the praise.
“The nature of the security department, such as home affairs, is that we are criticised by those who have the luxury to worry only about their own inconvenience or economic concerns,” he said. “We receive criticism for the few criminals that slip through our net such as the White Widow several years ago. But receive no praise for the many we prevent.”
Gigaba said only a minority of visitors entered SA irregularly and were dangerous criminals involved in terrorism and human trafficking, among other crimes.
However, terrorism was still a reality in many places in continent and the world, he said. “Countries in North, East and West Africa have suffered terrorist attacks in recent months and years and certainly like us, they did not expect this,” the minister said.
Gigaba said this was the reason Home Affairs had to be proactive about preventing suspicious individuals from entering the country as they also lured young people into a life of terrorism.
The summit was hosted by Topco Media and was meant to look into the country’s development by 2030 as per the National Development Plan.