Franschhoek on terror alert
Bastille Day organisers beef up security after Nice atrocity
SECURITY has been drastically ramped up for the Franschhoek Bastille Day Festival this weekend, following a terror attack in France at a similar commemoration, in which at least 84 people died.
The Hawks are also on alert and said they were poised to strike if any information surfaced about potential terrorist activities in South Africa.
Late on Thursday a terrorist attack took place in Nice, France, with a gunman firing shots at a crowd watching fireworks as part of Bastille Day celebrations, after mowing down scores of people, including children, in a 2km rampage with a truck.
While no South Africans appear to have been killed or hurt, several were in the vicinity at the time.
Yesterday, organisers of the Franschhoek Bastille Day Festival held an emergency meeting after learning of the Nice attack.
Event manager Darielle Robertson said: “Everything’s been increased and tightened… We’re definitely increasing police, law enforcement, traffic and fire services.”
About 4 000 people are expected at the festival today and 2 000 tomorrow.
The festival is held annually to commemorate the storming of the Bastille as the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789.
Thursday’s ill-fated celebra- tions in France were marking the same event.
Yesterday Stellenbosch mayor Conrad Sidego told Weekend Argus he would ask the Franschhoek organisers if they would consider having a minute’s silence for those who died in France.
“The French brought their cuisine and wine to this area,” he said, describing Fransch- hoek as the place in South Africa with the strongest links with France.
The attack in Nice, condemned around the world, came barely a week after an unconnected alleged terror plot was foiled on South African soil.
Last Saturday four suspects were arrested in Gauteng on terror-related charges.
Two of the four suspects, brothers Brandon- Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie, 24, allegedly planned to set off explosives at Jewish institutions or a US embassy in the country.
Yesterday President Jacob Zuma issued a statement saying: “Terrorism in any form and from whichever quarter cannot be condoned.”
The Claremont Main Road Mosque yesterday condemned the Nice attack.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this latest attack in France,” it said in a statement.
The International Relations and Co-operation Department’s Consular Services unit was in contact with the South African embassy in Paris to check on South Africans in the area at the time.
Henri Meistre, of Johannesburg, was at the spot where the truck ploughed into people moments before the incident. Yesterday he posted on Facebook that he and his travel companions took photographs and bought sweets there minutes before.
“All of us ok... we stood just to the left of where the truck came to a standstill… Mayhem broke out and we all just ran away from the Promenade des Anglaise,” Meistre said.
National Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi warned investigators were prepared to act on any information that could lead to terrorists in South Africa.
“People must know that we are on the prowl,” he said, adding Hawks officers were working closely with the State Security Agency (SSA).
SSA spokesman Brian Dube said they were keeping track of terrorist attacks abroad. “Given the global nature of terrorism, we are not immune.”
Roses tied to a barrier near the attack scene in Nice, France, offer a poignant memorial to the dead.
The anguished face of this woman reflects the shock as those celebrating Bastille Day in Nice come to grips with the tragedy.