Franschhoek on ter­ror alert

Bastille Day or­gan­is­ers beef up se­cu­rity af­ter Nice atroc­ity

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - CARYN DOLLEY

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.”

caryn.dolley@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: AP

Roses tied to a bar­rier near the at­tack scene in Nice, France, of­fer a poignant memo­rial to the dead.

PIC­TURE: AP

The an­guished face of this woman re­flects the shock as those cel­e­brat­ing Bastille Day in Nice come to grips with the tragedy.

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