US Embassy: Johannesburg Could Be a Target for Terrorists

An advisory published on the website of the US Embassy suggests that one of the wealthiest districts in South Africa might be the target of a terrorist assault.

This weekend in Johannesburg, the embassy wrote, "the US government has received information that terrorists may be intending to undertake an assault targeting large groups of people at an unidentified place in the broader Sandton region." There is no more information available on the planned attack's timeframe, strategy, or target.

Over the next weekend, the embassy has instructed its workers to stay away from crowded areas and any sizable public events. South Africa has a high crime rate, but Johannesburg, the country's largest metropolis and financial centre, hasn't had a major attack in decades.

Lieutenant-Colonel Mavela Masondo, a spokesman for the Gauteng Police, directed inquiries to Lirandzu Themba, a spokesman for the Police Ministry, who did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment. 

For its participation in a counter-insurgency campaign in northern Mozambique, where the Islamist militants have been attacking since 2017, South Africa has previously been threatened with strikes by Islamic State. The country is one of the 16-nation Southern African Development Community, which last year sent troops to assist the Mozambican government in putting an end to the conflict.

Information on organisations that could be targeting the area was not included in the advisory.

Many of the largest businesses in South Africa, including FirstRand Ltd., a provider of financial services, Sasol Ltd., a producer of chemicals, Discovery Ltd., an insurer, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., as well as international law firms and auditing companies like EY, have their main offices in Sandton.

Additionally, the region is home to a number of malls and other shopping establishments, which on weekends draw large numbers of tourists and residents.

According to Johannesburg Pride's Facebook page, the region will host the LGBTQ community's yearly march on Saturday.